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World Immunization Week 2020: Childhood Vaccines FAQ

The Mayo Clinic answers questions on childhood vaccines, including the benefits of a vaccine over natural immunity, the myth that vaccines cause autism, and the side effects of vaccines.

Q: Is natural immunity better than a vaccine?
A: “A natural infection might provide better immunity than vaccination—but there are serious risks. For example, a natural chickenpox (varicella) infection could lead to pneumonia. A natural polio infection could cause permanent paralysis. A natural mumps infection could lead to deafness. … Vaccination can help prevent these diseases and their potentially serious complications.”

Q: Do vaccines cause autism?
A: “Vaccines do not cause autism. Despite much controversy on the topic, researchers haven’t found a connection between autism and childhood vaccines. In fact, the original study that ignited the debate years ago has been retracted.”

Q: Are vaccine side effects dangerous?
A: “Any vaccine can cause side effects. Usually, these side effects are minor. … Rarely, a child might experience a severe allergic reaction or a neurological side effect, such as a seizure. … The benefits of getting a vaccine are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.”

Q: Why are vaccines given so early?
A: “The diseases that childhood vaccines are meant to prevent are most likely to occur when a child is very young and the risk of complications is greatest. … If you postpone vaccines until a child is older, it might be too late.”

Q: Is it OK to pick and choose vaccines?
A: “In general, skipping vaccines isn’t a good idea. This can leave your child vulnerable to potentially serious diseases that could otherwise be avoided. And consider this: For some children—including those who can’t receive certain vaccines for medical reasons (such as cancer therapy)—the only protection from vaccine-preventable diseases is the immunity of the people around them.”

Q: What vaccinations are recommended?
A: “Leading health care providers and the CDC recommend these vaccinations:

  • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis
  • Haemophilus Influenza B
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human Papilloma Virus
  • Influenza
  • Meningococcal
  • MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
  • Pneumococcal
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Varicella (chickenpox)

Many of these vaccinations can be administered in groups, and there are also “catch up” schedules available. There are certain individuals who should not receive vaccines. It’s important to discuss this with your health care provider. Also, you can review guidelines on the CDC’s website” at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html?s_cid=cs_001.

For more detailed answers, visit https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/the-facts-about-vaccinations  and https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/vaccines/art-20048334. 



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