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The Truth About Vaccinations

We all want to give our children every advantage in order to make their lives healthy and successful.  We enroll them in the best schools and programs to give them the best start we can.  Yet, as a family doctor, I often face parents who either refuse or delay vaccinating their children, claiming they are acting in the best interests of the children. 

With growing access to the myths and misconceptions publicized and distributed by the internet, a growing number of parents are questioning the need and/or safety of immunization and are thereby endangering, not only their own children, but other children and, possibly, whole communities.

Many parents believe that diseases like measles, pertussis and polio have been eradicated, making vaccination unnecessary.  Although the incidence of these diseases in North America is low, the ease of international travel makes the spread of these diseases readily transmitted through a simple plane ride.

Other parents believe vaccines cause serious reactions.  Although no vaccine is completely risk-free, the benefits of avoiding the disease itself far outweigh the risks.  Some groups have claimed the diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine cause brain damage or SIDS.  There is no proven evidence to support this claim. The pertussis component may at one time have been linked to high fever and seizures. Since 1997, a safer pertussis vaccine is in use, eliminating these side effects.  The old polio vaccine was a live vaccine with the potential of transmitting the disease itself to people with immune problems.  Now, a killed vaccine is used which does not carry this same risk.  

Some parents believe natural remedies, vitamins and good nutrition can prevent these diseases.  Although these things can improve your child’s overall health, they cannot prevent specific diseases.

The children who truly should not be vaccinated, or should do so with careful monitoring, include children with immune system problems, seizures and nervous system problems.  Children with allergies to eggs or with a strongly allergic background should discuss the safety of vaccines with their doctor. 

Vaccines do not protect just one individual, they protect other children and entire communities because they eliminate the reservoir for the disease, thereby preventing disease spread to people with immune deficiencies, or to newborns who have yet to be vaccinated.  Furthermore, the diseases for which we vaccinate can cause severe medical problems, and even death.  Please don’t endanger your children, and indeed all of our children and our community, by not vaccinating your child.  That sore arm or leg from the injection will last a few hours; the devastating effects of the disease may last a lifetime.

Vaccine
Protects Against
Schedule
(formerly DPT)Diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw) and pertusis (whooping cough)

2, 4, 6, 18 months and just before school.

(4 - 5 Years)

Tetanus requires booster shots every 10 years.

IPVPolio2, 4, 6, and 18 months.
MMRMeasles, Mumps and Rubella (German Measles)

12 Months and just before school

(4 - 5 Years)

Hep BHepatitis BAdministered in Grade 5 (currently also given in Grade 12 for children born after vaccination for hepatitis began)
HIBHaemophilus influenzae type B (can cause bacterial meningitis in children)2, 4, 6 and 18 months
VARVaricella
(chicken pox)
Soon to be administered through public health.  Currently, only through doctor’s offices.  Given after age 1 year as a single dose.  After age 13, requires 2 doses.
 

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