Vaccinations: Are they really necessary – and safe – for my kids?

Is your child up to date on his or her vaccinations? It’s one of the most important questions to answer, especially during school year.

If you are questioning if you should vaccinate your children, consider this: Vaccines help prevent diseases such as the flu, the measles and meningitis. In many cases, vaccines combat historically deadly diseases.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccinations prevented 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years.

That’s 42,000 deaths prevented every year in the U.S because of vaccinations.

The measles, for example, was declared eradicated from the United States in 2000, but in early 2014 it reemerged with the highest number of cases the country had seen in about 20 years, according to the CDC.  Nearly all the measle cases were associated with international travel by unvaccinated US residents, the agency reports.

In the CDC’s overview of the 2015 spike of U.S. measles cases found in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 131 of the 159 measle cases reported between January 4th and April 2nd of 2015 were either unvaccinated or were not even aware of their vaccination status.

Are vaccinations unsafe for my child?

Despite the many examples, some people are still afraid to get vaccinations or have their child vaccinated. Hispanics, for example, are 15% more likely than non-Hispanic whites to say childhood vaccinations are unsafe, according to the Pew Center Fact Tank.

Vaccinations being unsafe for children is far from true.

“It is very important to understand that these vaccines are both safe and the most effective way to prevent children and students from getting sick from these illnesses,” says Integrative Medicine expert, Dr. Joseph Mosquera.

Having big picture perspective with vaccinations

It’s important to recognize that no vaccine or medicine is perfect, and some kids who are immunized will undoubtedly experience reactions. Fortunately, when these reactions happen, most of the time they are mild and very short lived.

When vaccinating your child, they may experience redness, pain, or swelling at the site of a vaccination injection. Kids can even develop a slight fever, but after a couple days, these minor symptoms will disappear without leaving any lasting effects.

Before a vaccine is ever approved and licensed, it goes through years of testing for safety and effectiveness. Government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control would not recommend a vaccine that had not passed the tests for safety and effectiveness, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

When do I need to vaccinate my children?

When it comes to child vaccinations, every state has its own rules. Pew published an article detailing the 46 states that allow religious exemptions.

There are a few states however looking to eliminate this legislation. California recently implemented a law that disregards both personal and religious exemptions for childhood vaccines.

In general though, it’s important after six months of age for a child to be vaccinated against the flu.

School age kids should be up to date with their measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines,  as well as their TDAP vaccine that protects against tetanus and whooping cough.

Children 11 years and older, should also have the HPV vaccine to reduce risk of HPV related venereal disease.

Teenagers will require a meningitis vaccine, which helps prevent two out of three types of meningitis, an aggressive infection that can lead to death if not treated promptly.

And of course, people may be familiar with the tetanus vaccine that should be given as a booster every 10 years.

For more detailed information on child vaccination requirements by state per the CDC click here.

Vaccines are safe; they are effective, and they are scientifically proven to prevent diseases that can be deadly to our children and their surrounding communities.