Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Vaccine FAQ

Vaccine Benefits, Vaccine Risks: 10 Basic Questions Answered

7. What good do vaccines do?

"For every year's worth of vaccines we give out," says Schuchat, "over the life of the people receiving them, we prevent 33,000 deaths and 14 million illnesses with direct medical savings of $9.9 billion dollars and total societal savings of $43 billion. So vaccines greatly reduce life-threatening illnesses and deaths and also save money.

"Vaccines provide direct protection to the person immunized. But they also protect the family and the community.

"For example, infants and toddlers have since the year 2000 received pneumococcal vaccines to protect against dangerous brain, blood, lung, ear, and sinus infections. By vaccinating young children, we dramatically reduced disease in children but also dramatically reduced disease in adults by preventing spread of illness from children to others. That is the case for many vaccines: We get population protection. We protect the individual, and also others.

"For flu, we recommend vaccinating people at high risk of complications, but also recommend vaccination for their contacts, for parents of young children or caretakers of the elderly, because they prevent the person from spreading the disease to the vulnerable person."

8. How can I maximize my child's protection and minimize his or her risk?

"Many vaccines are recommended for every child," says Schuchat. "It is important to talk to your health care provider, to make regular appointments, and to keep them -- and to ask if any vaccinations are due and if your child is up to date. It is important to immunize but also important to immunize on time because gaps can leave a child vulnerable. You can keep a record of which immunizations they have gotten, something that is good for you and for their schools to have."

"In terms of reducing a child's risk of infectious diseases, hand washing is really important. A lot of these diseases can be spread when germs get on our hands.

"It is very appropriate for parents to want information and to keep themselves informed. The vaccine information statements are a good source of information. Parents want to protect children and want good information. They must be comfortable raising questions with their doctor or nurse and getting the answers they are looking for. After all, the first job of parents is to protect their child's health."

9. Wouldn't it be safer if I refuse to vaccinate my child?

"Vaccines protect against serious and life-threatening infections," says Schuchat. "So the choice to not immunize your child is like playing Russian roulette. The diseases are still out there. Other nations in the world don't have as strong an immunization system as we do, and those germs can come from anywhere. Leaving your child unimmunized is really putting your child and your family at risk."

Today on WebMD

Vaccine Schedule Are Your Childs Shots Up To Date
Article
Child getting a vaccine
Article
 
child with fever
Article
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 

What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
Article
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Slideshow
 
Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
Article
Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids
Video
 

Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
Video
gloved hand holding syringe
Article
 
infant receiving injection
Tool
Phototake Child Cheeks Fifth Disease
Slideshow
 

WebMD Special Sections