It's always a better approach to prevent a disease than to treat one after it occurs. That's why making sure children are fully vaccinated is so important.
Diseases that used to be common in this country and around the world – including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) – can now be prevented by vaccination. Thanks to a vaccine, one of the most terrible diseases in history – smallpox – no longer exists outside the laboratory. Despite these facts, some parents are hesitant about routine vaccinations for their children.
Vaccines are safe, effective and parents should make sure their children are immunized. It is not uncommon to have parents ask about unfounded claims that vaccines are unsafe and can cause other issues, such as autism.
Vaccines have definitively been proven to NOT cause autism by many EVIDENCE-BASED studies. The misconception originated from a fraudulent research paper in the late 1990s. It's important for parents to know the history of why this controversy began — and it's important for parents not to base their healthcare decisions for their children on fraudulent information. The science is very clear that vaccines are safe, effective, and do NOT cause autism.
Here are some more facts to keep in mind from the Centers for Disease Control:
- Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, this immunity goes away during the first year of life.
- If an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease germ, the child's body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles and polio. Those same germs exist today, but because babies are protected by vaccines, we don't see these diseases nearly as often.
- Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of the community, especially those people who cannot be immunized (children who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who can't receive certain vaccines for medical reasons), and the small proportion of people who don't respond to a particular vaccine.
- Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor's visits, hospitalizations and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.
To learn more about recommended immunizations, visit the CDC website.