Q: I’m scared of immunizations for my new baby. What are the chances there will be a bad reaction resulting in injury or death?
A: Immunizations shouldn’t be feared. They play a crucial role in keeping kids healthy and save lives. The risk of not immunizing your newborn far exceeds any theoretical risk. Unfortunately we’ve seen an increase in whooping cough and measles which were once eradicated thanks to vaccines. Unfortunately, misinformation about vaccines could make some parents decide not to immunize their children, putting them and others at a greater risk for illness.
It’s important to understand how a vaccine works. It prepares the body to fight illness. Each immunization contains either a dead or a weakened germ (or parts of it) that causes a particular disease. The body practices fighting the disease by making antibodies that recognize specific parts of that germ. The permanent response means that if someone is ever exposed to the actual disease, the antibodies are already in place and the body knows how to combat it and the person doesn’t get sick. Some parents question the logic of a vaccine and wonder if it will actually give their children the illness. It’s literally impossible to get the disease from any vaccine made with dead bacteria or viruses or just part of the bacteria or virus.
Some children may experience a minor reaction including redness or swelling where the shot was given, spike a fever and be sore. As a new mom, you can comfort a baby who has a fever. You can manage swelling or redness. That’s easy to care for compared to what would happen if your child gets chicken pox. Or worse yet, they don’t get chicken pox until adulthood.
Every year, millions of kids are safely vaccinated and very few experience significant side effects and this only happens rarely with live virus vaccines. If you don’t vaccinate your child, you are lowering their immunity and placing them at higher risk for contracting illness or disease.
Dr. McGee is a pediatrician and hospitalist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. McGee has more than 25 years of experience as a pediatrician and remains steadfast in promoting vaccines having seen the devastating effects of not vaccinating children.