The majority of parents choose to vaccinate their children according to the standard doctor-recommend schedule; however, many parents still have questions about vaccination. If you are wondering whether vaccinating your child is safe, the answer is yes: the United States currently has the safest vaccine supply in history and millions of children safely receive their vaccines every year. A vaccine can prevent infections and diseases that would once kill or cause lasting harm to infants, children, and adults. An unvaccinated child is at risk for contracting diseases such as whooping cough and measles, which can cause severe illness, pain, disability, and even death. A vaccine uses extremely small amounts of antigens to help your child’s immune system learn to recognize and fight serious diseases. Antigens are parts of germs that activate the immune system. This allows your child to gain future protection from a disease without getting sick.
While some children do experience side effects from their vaccines, the main effects tend to be extremely mild and go away within a few days. Serious side effects, such as severe allergic reactions, are extremely rare and medical professionals are trained to handle them if they do occur. In addition, all legitimate scientific and medical studies into vaccinations have concluded that there is no link between vaccinations and autism.
The disease-prevention benefits of vaccinating your child far outweigh the possible side effects for the vast majority of children. The only exceptions are cases where a child has a strong allergic reaction to a previous vaccine dose, a serious chronic medical condition (such as cancer), or a disease that weakens the immune system.
Our hectic, busy lives often leave us with little time to appreciate the magic of encouragement in our children's development of self-esteem. Positive strokes and expressions of love often are forgotten and replaced with negative reprimands. Here's a sure way to remember the importance of praise: take your wrist watch (or other piece of jewelry) and place it on the opposite hand from which you are accustomed to wearing it. Throughout the day, when you look at your watch (or jewelry) on the "wrong" hand, you will be reminded to say something supportive and positive to your child. Dan Feiten, M.D.
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