The safety and efficacy of vaccines has been the subject of a lot of discussion in the news media, especially in light of recent measles outbreaks. Measles is not a mild disease—neither is polio, whooping cough, Hib or pneumococcal meningitis, or rotavirus. These are the kinds of diseases that cause a lot of suffering for a child. This suffering is completely avoidable, thanks to vaccines.
Children usually catch these diseases from other children or adults who are unimmunized and who might not even know they are infected. Immunizations are one of the most effective strategies we have for preventing diseases, many of which have long been eradicated because of these vaccines. The science is overwhelming that vaccines are safe and effective. Studies published as recently as 2019 show no association between the MMR vaccine and autism. There has never been an association between vaccinations and autism.
We recommend the following when it comes to keep your child safe:
- Stick to the vaccination schedule outlined by your pediatrician and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommended schedule of immunizations has been researched and documented to be the most effective and safe way to protect children.
- Don’t forget about immunizations for your teenagers. Public schools now require certain vaccines before your child can enter middle or high school.
- Watch for any severe reaction to the vaccine. Such reactions are extremely rare, estimated at about 1 in a million doses, and would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination. Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction or rash, very high fever, or unusual fussiness.
- Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns. The ability to prevent suffering is one of the most important things to us as pediatricians. We want the best for you and your child.
Matthew C. McGee, MD, is a pediatrician with Christie Pediatric Group. Learn more about Christie Pediatric Group or find another Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–Upstate pediatrician near your work or home at ghschildrens.org/pediatricians. You also can call 1-844-447-3627 for help connecting with a pediatrician.
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