Ask the Doctor - Childhood Vaccinations
Gus Manocchia, M.D., Chief Medical Director
Q. There’s been so much in the news this year about childhood vaccinations. I just had a baby and I’m not sure what to do. What do you recommend?
A. As parents, we always want what’s best for our children—and vaccination is absolutely one of the best ways to protect your child’s health.
I understand why you might be concerned, as some people and organizations are claiming that vaccinations are unsafe. However, that information isn’t backed up by medical evidence. Here’s what we know from decades of research and studies:
- Vaccines can save your child’s life. Children are being protected against diseases that can cause deafness, brain damage, paralysis, and even death.
- There is no link between vaccines and autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. government agencies, and more than a dozen studies have found no association between autism and vaccines. Autism is often diagnosed when children are young, which is also when they’re receiving vaccinations. The two are not connected.
- Your child’s immune system can handle the vaccinations. Some parents are concerned that their children are receiving too many vaccinations in a short time. However, your child’s immune system is exposed to many more antigens from their environment than from vaccines. (An antigen is the protein chemical in vaccines that makes the body create antibodies.) Also, the total number of antigens that children receive in vaccinations now is actually less than what their parents received in vaccinations.
- Vaccines protect everyone. When most people are vaccinated against a disease, it protects people who can’t be vaccinated, such as babies and people with weakened immune systems. If the vaccination rate falls, outbreaks can happen. That’s what we’ve seen this year with measles.
I hope that information helps. Please talk with your child’s pediatrician about the schedule for getting your child vaccinated. You also use the links below to find vaccination schedules for children (and adults) on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website.