We’ve all heard that vaccines are important and that everyone should get them, but oftentimes questions and concerns go unaddressed.
In this article, we’re unpacking 9 of the most frequently asked questions that patients have about vaccines.
1. Why are vaccines important?
Vaccines provide protection from infections without the risk of getting seriously sick, disabled or killed by the actual infection. Even though natural immunity can give you an excellent immune response, there can be a high price to pay when someone gets sick with the infection.
Broadly speaking, vaccines in children have saved millions of lives and prevented children from being disabled because of complications from a slew of diseases like meningitis (infection of the brain), whooping cough, lockjaw or tetanus, paralysis from polio, chickenpox, liver failure (from hepatitis A) and liver cancer and cirrhosis (from hepatitis B infection), and more.
2. How are vaccines made?
Vaccines are made by separating the parts of the bacteria or virus that make you sick (virulence) from the parts that cause the body to induce protective immune response (immunogenicity).
For vaccines designed to combat viruses, manufacturing is done by weakening the virus (measles, mumps and rubella, chickenpox, and rotavirus), inactivating the virus (hepatitis A, influenza, and polio) or using part of the virus (hepatitis B and HPV) so that it will not cause disease.
For vaccines designed to fight bacteria, this is done by using the sugar that coats the bacterial surface, inactivating the toxin that bacteria produce, or purifying the bacterial protein to make it harmless.
3. Are vaccines safe?
Yes, vaccines are safe, and this is in part due to the rigorous approval processes that a vaccine must undergo before being administered on a widespread level. Before a vaccine is approved, there are many steps that the manufacturer must follow to ensure that a vaccine is safe.
The most common side effects are usually mild, such as pain at the site of the injection, low grade fever, fussiness. Usually, these side effects only last a few days, typically 1-2 days.
4. Can vaccines overload my child’s immune system?
No, vaccines do not “overload” the immune system. In fact, children’s immune systems successfully fight off thousands of germs every day.
Vaccines are meant to give us and our children the antibodies or fighting cells needed to fight the infection caused by serious vaccine preventable diseases.
5. Why do I have to have my child vaccinated early?
Young children are the most susceptible to serious and life-threatening diseases at a young age. So vaccines are administered early to prepare children for a potential encounter with serious infections.
Even children who are not in daycare or school can be exposed to a variety of infections from parents and siblings to visitors at home and trips to the playground, attending church, or even going grocery shopping.
6. Why do adolescents need vaccines?
As children grow older, protection from vaccinations wears off. Adolescents need vaccines to maintain immunity and protect themselves from new kinds of infections which they are more commonly exposed to at this age.
For example, HPV is a vaccine which protects our youth from getting throat cancer and cervical cancer later in life, both of which are deadly. The immunity provided by this vaccine has been shown to be permanent.
7. Will the vaccine cause illness?
Vaccinations put the body in defense mode, making the body think it is fighting an infection. Although the body may think it’s under attack, what’s happening is that the body is making the antibodies necessary to fight a potentially real infection.
This is the reason why we feel a little tired and sore and the reason why there is fever sometimes.
8. Should I delay vaccinating or follow a non-standard schedule?
No, here are some reasons the CDC recommends sticking to the recommended immunization schedule:
- The immunization schedule is carefully designed to provide protection at just the right time.
- While babies are born with some immunity, they have not yet built up the necessary defenses against the diseases that vaccines prevent
- It can take weeks for a vaccine to help your baby make protective disease-fighting antibodies, and some vaccines require multiple doses to provide best protection
- Not vaccinating your child on time can make someone else sick
For the safety and wellbeing of one’s children and those around them, the CDC recommends sticking to their vaccine schedule and not delaying them.
9. Should my child receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, data shows that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine can reduce MIS-C by 91% in young people 12-18 years of age. Two kinds of vaccines (Moderna 2 doses and Pfizer 3 doses) are now available for our children ages 6-months to 4 years of age. These doses are much lower than those given to adults, and they have been shown to be effective and safe.
At MCR Health, we understand that many people are hesitant or skeptical when it comes to vaccinations. That’s why we encourage you to bring your questions and concerns with you when you schedule an appointment for your child.
These lifesaving vaccinations help protect against diseases that could result in hospitalization and/or death of a child or someone else. Please don’t hesitate to schedule your child’s appointment to receive immunizations today!