09/ 06/ 2016
Q: Are vaccines safe?
A: Yes. Vaccines are very safe. The United States’ long-standing vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible. Currently, the United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. Millions of children are safely vaccinated each year. The most common side effects are typically very mild, such as pain or swelling at the injection site.
Q: What are the side effects of the vaccines? How do I treat them?
A: Vaccines, like any medication, may cause some side effects. Most of these side effects are very minor, like soreness where the shot was given, fussiness, or a low-grade fever. These side effects typically only last a couple of days and are treatable. For example, you can apply a cool, wet washcloth on the sore area to ease discomfort.
Serious reactions are very rare. However, if your child experiences any reactions that concern you, call the doctor’s office.
Q: What are the risks and benefits of vaccines?
A: Vaccines can prevent infectious diseases that once killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. Without vaccines, your child is at risk for getting seriously ill and suffering pain, disability, and even death from diseases like measles and whooping cough. The main risks associated with getting vaccines are side effects, which are almost always mild (redness and swelling at the injection site) and go away within a few days. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare and doctors and clinic staff are trained to deal with them. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children
Q: Can vaccines overload my baby’s immune system?
A: Vaccines do not overload the immune system. Every day, a healthy baby’s immune system successfully fights off millions of germs. Antigens are parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to go to work.
The antigens in vaccines come from the germs themselves, but the germs are weakened or killed so they cannot cause serious illness. Even if babies receive several vaccinations in one day, vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of the antigens that they encounter every day in their environment.Vaccines provide your child with the antibodies they need to fight off the serious illnesses for which they have been vaccinated.
Q: Don’t infants have natural immunity? Isn’t natural immunity better than the kind from vaccines?
A: Babies may get some temporary immunity (protection) from mom during the last few weeks of pregnancy—but only for the diseases to which mom is immune. Breastfeeding may also protect your baby temporarily from minor infections, like colds. These antibodies do not last long, leaving your baby vulnerable to disease.
Natural immunity occurs when your child is exposed to a disease and becomes infected. It is true that natural immunity usually results in better immunity than vaccination, but the risks are much greater. A natural chickenpox infection may result in pneumonia, whereas the vaccine might only cause a sore arm for a couple of days.