Why you should vaccinate your children

Over several decades, there have been somewhat divided opinions as to whether or not young children and infants should be vaccinated. Some parents choose to give their children some vaccines but not others; some forego vaccination altogether – either as a result of autism scares or worries that vaccines will compromise a growing immune system. Here are several reasons not to skip vaccinations.

School

Not only do most schools require an up to date vaccination card before they will admit your child, with the exception of a few states, unvaccinated children miss more days of school. This is in part due to the fact that unvaccinated children are up to five times as likely to contract a preventable illness, but also that many schools require unvaccinated children to stay home during an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease to minimize the spread. One such example is a 2015 Traverse City varicella (Chicken Pox) outbreak.

Placing other children at risk

A small number of children are exempt from state and school vaccination requirements. Many of these children are unable to receive vaccines due to severe allergies or compromised immune systems as a result of leukemia, transplant or other rare immune conditions. A parent who chooses not to vaccinate places not only their own child but also other children who may already be immunocompromised at risk in the event of an outbreak.

What about autism?

The root of the misconception that the MMR vaccine causes, or increases the likelihood of autism is the result of a 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist. His theory being that the translocation of usually non-permeable peptides into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract, and subsequently to the brain, had impaired development, allegedly a result of the MMR vaccine.

However, his theory lacked merit in several ways. The study consisted of only 8 children, all at the typical age for autism diagnosis and having received the MMR vaccine. However, with no control group and not scientific link (very few children show any gastrointestinal symptoms whatsoever before presenting with autism), The Lancet later retracted the article.

Several studies have since been conducted showing no link whatsoever between vaccines and autism.

Am I poisoning my child?

Many parents are concerned that they are injecting a live strain of a disease into their child or that vaccines contain toxins such as mercury. However, the majority of vaccines contain deactivated or dead viral and bacterial cells, according to babycentre.com.

Those that do contain a “live” strain have been weakened to the point where the body will still recognize them to fight stronger infections in future, but the disease will not be able to replicate in the body.

The preservative thimerosal has been a cause for concern because it breaks down into ethylmercury. The concern is unwarranted, however, as ethyl mercury, unlike methylmercury, does not accumulate in the human body.

Conclusion

If for some reason your pediatrician thinks you should not vaccinate, or you still question their view that you should, get a second opinion. Websites like Topdoctors allow patients to find the best specialists in their area and see where they rank, so if you are unsure of your doctor’s advice, you can be sure that they are in the best position to advise you.

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