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Why are vaccines necessary?

Thomas Jacob, MD
Pediatrics
Vaccines have played a crucial role in reducing most vaccine-preventable diseases to very low levels, especially in the Western world. However, given the urbanization of many areas of the U.S., as well as the high rate of international travel in these areas, the risk of having outbreaks of these infections is a very imminent threat. Unvaccinated children are at a high risk for these infections, and run the risk of spreading these infections to individuals who are unable to receive vaccinations because of medical reasons.

Vaccinations have helped save millions of lives around the world and have virtually eradicated many fatal diseases. Immunizations, vaccinations, and “shots” are all really the same thing. They help your child’s body recognize and fight germs, providing protection each time he or she comes in contact with certain infectious diseases. Not only do vaccinations help your child’s body build up that resistance, they make them less likely to pass a disease on to someone else. Children must be given a complete series of shots to be fully protected, so if you’re not certain that your child has received all of his vaccinations, check with your pediatrician. You can also get immunization information by phone by calling the Centers for Disease Control at (800) 232-4636.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

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Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

When kids start going on TV binges or devouring fistfuls of cookies, it's easy to say, "They'll grow out of it." More likely, they're acquiring bad habits that could lead to childhood obesity and...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
If we had vaccines for more pathogens (disease-causing agents such as viruses and bacteria), we could decrease the incidence of more diseases. Imagine if there were vaccines against Alzheimer's disease, AIDS, breast cancer, and bacterial infections such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a potentially fatal staph bacteria that is alarmingly resistant to antibiotics. Many docs believe it is life threatening not to immunize. Children continue to die of pertussis (whooping cough) in parts of the world where this vaccine is not utilized by enough of the population.

On the other hand, people against vaccination argue that there are hundreds of pathogens for which there are no vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes very good recommendations for staying healthy while being exposed to those pathogens. The same recommendations should hold true for those diseases for which we have vaccines.

Our grandparents and their parents didn't get vaccinated, and a number of us didn't get many of the current vaccines. We missed seven to fourteen days or so of school for chicken pox (varicella), and some of us will suffer shingles when that virus resurfaces in us later in life. Our caregivers suffered with us and stayed home from work, too. We weren't allowed to play outside, go to the movies, or go to camp in the summer until the polio vaccine was deployed. Many of us older docs know folks killed or harmed for life with mental dysfunction by a virus for which there is now a vaccine. One in a thousand of our parents' generation who got measles developed brain dysfunction, German measles led to deafness, blindness, and brain dysfunction if infection was contracted in utero, and more kids died in previous eras due to other vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination has promoted a better quality of life and has allowed more of us to survive and have children of our own. I'm for 'em.
YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.