With 70+ years of vaccine research and administration behind us, we can provide information as you make vaccine decisions. Please take time to talk to your family doctor/pediatrician to discuss routine immunizations and specific considerations for your family.
As parents, we protect our children every day from risks. We use car seats, have them brush their teeth and encourage healthy eating habits. Routine vaccines are one of the safest and most efficient ways to protect our children from potentially life-threatening diseases and the suffering associated with them. Vaccines have been available since 1914 and today, millions of children are safely vaccinated yearly. In the 1940’s, vaccine production allowed them to become available in large scales and since then, we have added recommendations to adolescents and there continues to be increasing opportunities for adults.
One of the biggest concerns to parents is safety. The reality is, there is no action that is always 100% safe. Even everyday activities, such as eating and driving to work have risks. In the United States, approximately 5000 people a year die from choking and around 90 people a day die from car crashes. Yet, we don’t consider these behaviors as risky. The benefits of these activities outweigh the risks.
In truth, there are side effects to vaccines. Almost all of them cause redness and discomfort at the injection site. In addition, vaccines can often cause fevers, which is the body’s way of responding to the vaccine. Even with these mild symptoms, the benefits of the vaccine almost always outweigh the risks of the disease.
Some people feel the diseases we vaccinate against are no longer a threat to our children. While there is some protection from the immunized population, diseases continue to present a risk. For example, measles was almost eliminated in the United States by 2000. In 2019, there were 1300 cases of measles reported in the United States. Of those, 128 were hospitalized and 61 had complications of pneumonia or encephalitis (swelling of the brain). There are 17,500 cases of pertussis being reported annually in the United States. This is often a mis or underdiagnosed disease, so there is thought that this disease is under reported. Sadly, the risk of pertussis could be fatal and cause heart, kidney or nerve damage. The pertussis vaccine does not cause death, so the vaccine benefits do outweigh the risks. The recurrence of diseases is directly related to unvaccinated populations.
Vaccines do have multiple ingredients, which can be concerning for parents. One of the most discussed ingredients is the preservative Thimersal, which contains mercury. It is rarely used today and large studies have been shown to have no evidence of harm. Another ingredient that has been largely discussed is Polysorbate 80, which is in the HPV and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The concern is infertility. This stabilizer has been used for many years in ice cream. The quantities of Polysorbate 80 in the vaccines contain less than the quantities found in a ½ cup of a typical ice cream serving.
We as parents and as a community want to be informed and create a healthy environment for our families. With 70+ years of vaccine research and administration behind us, we can provide information as you make vaccine decisions. Please take time to talk to your family doctor/pediatrician to discuss routine immunizations and specific considerations for your family.
You can also get information at the following websites: