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.
Getting preschoolers and school-age children to take medicine can be very challenging for parents. Try this: pour the medicine into a small medicine cup, measuring out the exact amount prescribed by your doctor. Then, "top it off" with several teaspoons of either strawberry or chocolate syrup. You also can try this for medicine in tablet form. First, using two spoons, crush the pill into a fine powder. Then, put the powder into the medicine cup, and fill it with flavored syrup. Stir until the powder is dissolved, and let your child drink it up! Kathleen Traylor, M.D.
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