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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Reasons for or against getting immunized

An overwhelming majority of health professionals, medical researchers, and professional medical organizations (such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Practice Physicians) recommend immunizing children. Immunizations protect both the individual and the community.

  • Vaccinations prevent your child from getting diseases for which there are often no medical treatments. These illnesses can result in serious complications and even death.
  • A small number of people may be susceptible to diseases, such as those with impaired immune systems. These people may not be able to get vaccinations or may not develop immunity even after having been vaccinated. Their only protection against certain diseases is for others to get vaccinated so the illnesses are less common.
  • Immunizations cost very little-much less than treating the illnesses they prevent.
  • If exposure to a disease occurs in a community, there is little to no risk of an epidemic if people have been immunized.

Also, immunizations are often required by law. In many areas, children must be immunized before they can start day care or school, although most states have provisions to waive this requirement if it conflicts with a family's religious beliefs.

Recommended Related to Children's Vaccines

Should Your Child Get the HPV Vaccine?

If you have a child who is at least 9 years old, you may be weighing whether he or she should get vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Men and women can carry it. HPV sometimes plays a role in other cancers as well, including cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and throat. There are two HPV vaccines: Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardasil, which protects against four HPV types (6, 11, 16,...

Read the Should Your Child Get the HPV Vaccine? article > >

Reactions to immunizations are usually mild and don't last long. Serious reactions to immunizations are extremely rare. Health risks are much higher if you are not immunized and you become infected with a disease. Talk to your health professional if you have any concerns about having your child immunized. On very rare occasions, your health professional may recommend waiting to have your child immunized, such as when he or she has:

  • A history of serious allergic reaction to a vaccine or one of its components.
  • A serious illness, such as severe vomiting and/or diarrhea (when dehydration is a concern), pneumonia, bronchiolitis, or a severe asthma attack. However, vaccinations usually can still be given when a child has a mild to moderate illness, such as a cold, mild diarrhea, an ear infection, or is taking antibiotics.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer William Atkinson, MD, MPH - Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Last Revised February 26, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 26, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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