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Immunizations: Questions Parents Ask - Vaccine Safety

Are vaccines safe?

Yes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully evaluates all vaccines for safety. After a vaccine is approved, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccine maker, and several other agencies watch for any reports of rare or unexpected reactions. Federal law requires health professionals to report any reaction following an immunization to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).

The risk of problems from a disease is much greater than the risk from the vaccine. Whooping cough, for example, still exists in the U.S. This disease can cause a child to have severe breathing problems or seizures. It can lead to a hospital stay or even death.

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When a new whooping cough vaccine was introduced in the late 1990s, there were hopes for a lower infection rate. But there's been a puzzling trend: a spike in new cases. More than 48,000 Americans had whooping cough in 2012 -- a 50-year high. The disease, also known as pertussis, brings on fits of coughing that can last for weeks in adults and older kids. For babies, especially very young ones, the symptoms can be life-threatening. What's behind the increase in whooping cough? Experts aren't sure,...

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Do vaccines cause autism?

No. False claims in the news have made some parents concerned about a link between autism and vaccines. But studies have found no link between vaccines and autism.1, 2

What are the side effects of vaccines?

Most side effects from vaccines are minor, if they occur at all.

The area where the shot was given may be sore. And some children may be fussy or get a slight fever. Your doctor or pharmacist can explain the reactions that could occur.

Children who are allergic to eggs may have a reaction to the type of flu vaccine that contains egg protein. If your child has an egg allergy, ask the doctor if your child can still get the flu vaccine.

Serious side effects are very rare. It's much more dangerous to risk getting the diseases than to risk having a serious reaction to the vaccines.

Isn't it dangerous to get more than one vaccine at a time?

No. Combined vaccines have no greater risk for side effects than a single vaccine does.3

Some parents worry about their children getting several vaccines at the same time. They worry that a child's immune system can't handle all those vaccine organisms at the same time.

Getting more than one shot may seem like a lot for a child's body to handle. But babies have billions of immune system cells that are hard at work all the time, fighting the many thousands of germs they're exposed to every day.

More and more vaccines are being combined into a single shot, such as the measles-mumps-rubella shot. This means fewer shots need to be given. Even though the vaccines are combined, each gives the same protection as it would if it were given alone.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    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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