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Vaccines: Getting the Facts

By on September 4, 2012

Courtesy of Miami Children’s Hospital

For more than a century, vaccines have helped protect millions of children against a slew of potentially deadly diseases. Yet, many parents hesitate to have their children vaccinated due to widespread misinformation. “Vaccines are one of the most important tools available at preventing the spread of diseases,” says Dr. Jose Rosa-Olivares, Medical Director of the Pediatric Care Center at Miami Children’s Hospital. “They prepare the body to fight illness by allowing it to create antibodies to prevent disease.”

Can’t Vaccines Cause Health Complications?

One of the predominant reasons some parents fear vaccines is because of perceived links to conditions such as autism and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS.). However, studies have disproven the validity of these theories. “Vaccines are not the reason for an increase in autism diagnoses over the last decade or so,” explained Dr. Jose Rosa-Olivares. “Autism diagnoses have increased because of a broader definition of this spectrum disorder. There are not necessarily more children living with autism than there were in the past. Simply, more families now have a diagnosis for their child’s condition, whereas 10 years ago, the symptoms may have been unexplained.”

As relates to SIDS, Dr. Jose Rosa-Olivares notes, “Various studies have failed to prove the connection between vaccines and SIDS. In fact, the number of SIDS cases has decreased more than 50 percent in recent years, while the number of vaccines administered each year continues to rise.”

Everyone Else Is Already Vaccinated. Does My Child Really Have to Be?

It’s likely that most school-age children have received their proper immunizations. But, school isn’t the only place children come in contact with transmittable diseases. When traveling, there’s always a risk that a child may come in contact with someone or something that carries disease-carrying bacteria or viruses. Unvaccinated children are at increased risk of contracting and spreading vaccine-preventable diseases.

Moreover, the U.S. is constantly hosting travelers from all over the world who may carry diseases. Diseases such as polio, though no longer an issue in the U.S., still exist in other parts of the world. Therefore, it’s only safe to discontinue vaccines when a disease has been eliminated worldwide.  As a parent, you want to do what’s best for your child, that’s why it’s important to talk to your pediatrician about which vaccinations your child may need. Keeping them up to date with age-appropriate immunizations is the first step in helping children grow to be happy and healthy.

For more information, visit www.mch.com

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