As a parent, you want to keep your child as safe as you can. Part of this is protecting them from diseases, which you can do through vaccines. If you haven’t vaccinated already, the COVID-19 pandemic might leave you asking, “should I vaccinate my child?”
Yes, you should. You might have some uneasiness when it comes to vaccination, though, which is understandable. There’s a lot of talk out there about vaccines, some of it suggesting that they may not be safe.
The good news is that vaccines are both safe and effective. Just hearing that may not put your fears to rest, though. So here are some common concerns about vaccines, and why you don’t have to worry about them.
Common Vaccine Concerns
When you look at vaccine ingredients, they can seem frightening. They can include things like formaldehyde and traces of the disease they’re supposed to prevent. However scary the parts may seem, they won’t harm your child.
Your body already contains more formaldehyde than a vaccine, and it won’t harm you in these tiny doses. As for the germs and viruses, that’s actually how vaccines work. They introduce weakened versions of the pathogens, so your body develops immunity against them.
You might’ve seen some children show side effects after a vaccine. Vaccines can cause mild side effects like irritation, but they’ll go away in a few days. Severe or lasting issues are exceedingly rare, usually resulting from an allergic reaction.
There’s a popular myth that vaccines cause autism from a chemical called thimerosal. No reputable scientific studies have ever found a link between thimerosal and autism. Even if they did, thimerosal is no longer present in vaccines given to children.
You may be concerned about how many vaccines a child receives at once. Health care experts designed the recommended vaccine schedule to avoid overloading your child’s immune system. Not adhering to this schedule can put your child at risk, since they may not develop the proper immunity in time.
You might also think vaccines are unnecessary. You can take steps to avoid infections, like good hygiene, but they’re not foolproof. Some diseases, like measles, have no available cure, so vaccines are the only way to protect against them effectively.
How Vaccines Keep Children Safe
Vaccines work by causing your body to develop immunity. They don’t introduce the pathogen in its entirety, and other ingredients make sure it’s safe. Your body then trains itself to recognize and fight the pathogen.
If you have a weak immune system, you may not be able to tolerate the pathogens in a vaccine. That’s why you have to be a certain age for some of them, and why some people can’t get them. However, immunizations can still protect people through something called herd immunity.
If enough people are immune to a disease, it won’t be able to spread and it will eventually die out altogether. The Gambia was able to eliminate Hib disease with a less than 70% vaccination rate.
Vaccination doesn’t just protect your child, but also those around them. If you’re immune to a disease, then you can’t catch it to give to someone else. To protect those who can’t get vaccinated, everyone who can get one should.
Before doctors can administer a vaccine, the FDA and other health authorities have to approve it. They go through years of lab and clinical testing before you can receive one. By the time you can give your child a vaccine, you can be sure it’s safe.
Getting Vaccines in the Pandemic
The current coronavirus pandemic brings up some questions about vaccination. There’s no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, but what about regular immunizations? Should you vaccinate your child during the outbreak?
You should still vaccinate your child, especially in light of the virus. You should try to keep your family as healthy as possible, which includes immunizations. You may have to work within some new health guidelines, though.
You may have to wait in your car until it’s time for your appointment. Some doctor’s offices only see well children in the morning and sick patients later in the day. Check with your pediatrician about their measures to keep your child safe during an appointment.
Vaccines Protect Your Children and Others
Vaccines have a proven track record. They’ve eradicated diseases like smallpox so they’re no longer a threat. If enough people vaccinate, they can do the same to infectious diseases like measles.
If you’re still unsure, you can look at vaccine information statements to learn more. You can also ask your doctor to tell you about your child’s particular situation. However, years of medical research concludes you should vaccinate your child.
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