April 24th through April 30 is known as World Immunization Week. The purpose of this week is to promote use of vaccines in order to protect individuals of all ages against diseases. Immunizations save millions of lives and are seen as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. The problem is, even though vaccinations are so widespread, there are still 19.4 million unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in the world. We wanted to discuss childhood vaccinations and how they can help your infant in honor of World Immunization Week.
There comes a time where new parents will have to decide whether or not to vaccinate their baby. It can be an overwhelming decision, as there are a lot of concerns with the different kinds of vaccinations and their side effects. One main concern that is still widely discussed is if vaccinations can cause autism.
Do Vaccinations Cause Autism?
According to the Developmental Disabilities Institute, there is not one ultimate reason as to why there is a rise in autism diagnosis. Nevertheless, there has been an increased awareness on the topic, therefore it is becoming more recognized by doctors and parents. With the environment/society changes this can also play role. Research has also shown that certain genetic changes/mutations are linked to developing autism. With all the research that has been conducted, there is NO evidence that getting your child vaccinated will cause autism.
How Do Vaccinations Help Your Infant?
When bacteria or viruses invade our body, they multiple and attack, causing us to feel ill. Your immune system will step in to attack and kill the infection. Your immune system will then make antibodies. Antibodies are responsible for recognizing bacteria and viruses, that once invaded your body, and killing them before they make you ill. Vaccinations help the immune system by creating a “false attack” to the body. This “false attack” still activates the immune system to respond and create antibodies forever remembering how to defeat it if attacked again by the real deal. For example, when your infant receives the Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine they are being injected with the dead chickenpox virus to trigger an immune response. With the chickenpox virus already dead, this will NOT cause a chickenpox illness.
Many of us take medication every day that was prescribed by our doctor and just like medication, each vaccination may have possible side effects. The side effects, if experienced are usually minor and rarely will people experience severe side effects. Minor side effects can be skin irritation at the injection site, fatigue, low grade fever, etc. The serious side effects which, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, are rare and can range from having an allergic reaction, severe stomach pain, rashes, seizures, organ failure, etc. The CDC states the benefits of getting vaccinated out-weigh the risk of side effects. By not vaccinating your child, you are only putting your child at risk for contracting a potentially fatal disease but the other children that come into contact with your child are also potentially at risk as well.
With that being said, there are some groups of people that should not get certain vaccinations. This information can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Deciding whether or not to vaccinate your child is ultimately up to you. Always consult with your doctor about the different vaccines that your child may need as he/she has your child’s best interest in mind.