Dr. Amanda Lovette, Pediatrician
Immunizations are a sensitive subject. Parents often have concerns about what is being injected into their children, or what the side effects may be. To add to it, opinions are coming from friends, family members and strangers on the internet regarding what they think parents should do. It can easily become an overwhelming decision, but it doesn’t have to be. August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and by learning the facts, parents can make educated decisions about whether immunizations are right for their children.
Many people assume that, as a physician, I am biased towards immunizations. I am, but my bias is a result of the greater good that I’ve seen from them being administered. Estimates suggest that as many as four to five million lives are saved each year from diseases like whooping cough, measles, polio, meningitis and pneumonia because of childhood immunizations.
At the turn of the 19th Century, one in every two to three children didn’t live to see their fifth birthday. That childhood mortality rate would be horrific and unacceptable in today’s world, and thankfully, we don’t have to live with those statistics. That is in part because of childhood immunizations. I personally have seen unvaccinated children die from whooping cough and measles – senseless, unfathomable deaths from diseases these children should have never had. These diseases are very much still active in our society, but there are solutions.
Common concerns about immunization side effects
Another concern parents have regarding immunizations is the side effects. Most of the side effects involve sore muscles at the site of the injection, or a low-grade fever that resolves within a few days. Serious side effects are extremely rare, rarer than the risk of getting the disease the vaccine is designed to prevent.
Parents might also be concerned about ingredients being used. So here are some facts about those ingredients: thimerosal (aluminum) is not present in vaccines except in multi-dose vials. Stabilizers are also found in Jello and in the body naturally. Formaldehyde, which is used to prevent bacterial contamination, is found more in the body naturally than in immunizations and is in household products.
Antigens and their effect on young immune systems
And what about how many antigens children receive in these immunizations? Parents worry about overwhelming their child’s immune systems, but your infant is actually exposed to thousands of antigens daily in his/her environment. The total number of antigens in all the vaccines through the age of two is only 320. In other words, your child’s immune system is in no way fragile and will not be overwhelmed by the number of vaccines that he/she gets in the first two years of their life.
Those are just a few of the concerns that parents may have regarding immunizations. Talk to your child’s provider and trust that he/she has the best interest of your child, not the vaccine manufacturing company, in mind. I suggest doing your research on immunizations by using validated and science-based articles.
As the parent, you get to decide if your child is immunized, but don’t decide based on fear or hearsay – decide based on substantiated facts. If you have any further questions, the Delta Health Pediatrics Clinic in Delta is currently enrolling patients. You can call us to make an appointment today at 970.546.4000 or visit us online at deltahealthco.org/delta-health-pediatrics/.
Dr. Amanda Lovette is a Pediatrician at the Delta Health Pediatrics clinic located in Delta, Colorado. Lovette specializes in the general healthcare needs of infants, children and adolescents.