Dr. Russell Greenfield: Hi! I am Dr. Russell Greenfield and today I am discussing the importance of vaccinating your children. Protecting your children from deadly diseases is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. The controversy about childhood vaccinations has arisen mostly due to the fortunate lack of experience with the targeted diseases like polio and the heavy publicity given to rare but very real side-effects. Here are several reasons why your children should be immunized.
Number one, vaccination works. According to the centers for disease control if we didn't have these vaccines, up to 20,000 kids a year could be crippled by polio, 600 would die from bacterial meningitis and pregnant woman exposed to a child with rubella would give birth to 20,000 babies with developed mental disorders, heart defects or deafness.
While no vaccine is 100% effective for all people throughout their lives, childhood vaccinations do either prevent infection with or weaken specific infectious agents and protect our children at their age of greatest vulnerability.
The side effects from shots are generally minor compared to the diseases themselves. It is the rare child who suffers more than a slight fever or sourness around the injection site. Yet anyone who has seen children suffer and die from whooping cough, diphtheria or meningitis knows how scary these diseases are.
Vaccinating our kids does not weaken the developing immune system, but actually appears to train and further strengthen it and multiple shots given at the same time do not overwhelm the immune system. They cause no greater side-effects and because there are fewer injections, today's vaccine save your baby pain.
Specifically addressing the Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, there appears to be a little reason to fear it. Research has repeatedly shown, it does not cause autism. With the increase in international travel, we are all at greater risk of exposure to diseases we thought were eliminated in this country. Your child's immunization helps other too through a phenomenon called herd immunity. When enough of us are vaccinated against a disease the rest of the herd is protected too, including people who cannot be immunized like the unborn and those with weakened immune system.
Parents often have real and important concerns about vaccinations that should be addressed with their doctors. It is possible that in very rare circumstances a child maybe uniquely susceptible to complications from vaccination. But the benefits of preventing such terrible and potentially life threatening disorders through vaccination currently trumps that risk.