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21 years after British researchers published a paper saying the MMR vaccine caused autism, the fall out continues. Although the study only included 12 subjects and was later retracted by the journal that published it, the damage was done. Although countless studies since have debunked it, the rate of unvaccinated children continues to rise. The result? Diseases once considered eradicated are making a return.

Keep your children healthy – vaccinate.

The benefits vs. the risks 

There are documented side effects from childhood vaccines, but they tend to be minor – low-grade fever, fussiness, soreness, etc. Serious side effects such as seizures are rare. As a parent, do you have a right to be concerned? Of course. But leaving your child unvaccinated exposes them to the far greater risk of contracting a potentially serious disease that can be avoided.

Keeping to a schedule

Not delaying vaccinations and adhering the schedule recommended by your doctor protects your child before they can be exposed. Many vaccines require multiple doses to build immunity.

For you, before and during pregnancy:

  • Recommended by the CDC: Seasonal flu vaccine; Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) at least one month before pregnancy; Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) during the 3rd trimester of each pregnancy. If you receive the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, your body will create antibodies against whooping cough, some of which will pass to your baby to provide some short-term, early protection.

For your child prior to age 2:

  • Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB): Protects against contagious liver disease
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (DTaP): Protections include whooping cough
  • Pneumococcal (PCV13): Protects against pneumococcal pneumonia, bacteremia, meningitis, and otitis media (middle ear infection).
  • Polio vaccine (IPV)
  • Rotavirus vaccine (RV): Protects against a common cause of infant diarrhea
  • Measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib): Protects against Hib, a leading cause of bacterial meningitis
  • Flu vaccine: All children over 6 mos. of age should receive a seasonal flu vaccination annually
  • Chickenpox vaccine (varicella)
  • Hepatitis A

Aged 3-10:

  • Chickenpox vaccine (varicella)
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (DTaP)
  • Flu vaccine (annually)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR)
  • Polio vaccine (IPV)

Aged 11-12: 

  • Human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV): Protects against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers; given in three shots over a six-month period and recommended for both boys and girls
  • Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine: Protects against one type of meningococcal bacteria, which can cause serious and even deadly infections, including meningitis
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine (Tdap)
  • Flu vaccine (annually)
  • “Catch-up” vaccines: HepB, polio, MMR and varicella vaccines, if they were not received when younger

College age: 

  • Before you child heads off the college, check with their doctor to make sure they are current on all vaccinations, including protections against HPV and meningitis.

As adults: 

  • Flu vaccine (annually)
  • Tetanus vaccine (every 10 years)
  • Shingles vaccine (over the age of 50)
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, followed by one dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (over the age of 65; If you are an adult younger than 65 with a disease such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or HIV, your doctor may also recommend these vaccines.)
  • Others, based on your health, lifestyle, travel activities or job

The CDC has created a helpful handout outlining the recommended vaccination schedule, along with a description of each. Download it here to keep handy as your child grows:

Article Courtesy of Health Mart

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