The Truth About Vaccines

While scientific research has proven that childhood vaccines are safe and effective at preventing diseases, some parents still have concerns about vaccinations for their children. But these parents may not understand completely the benefits of vaccines, and how they can keep their children -- and the community at large -- free from serious illness.

"Because I am a pediatrician, mother and self-described 'greenie,' I think it's important I add my voice to this topic, especially for my fellow environmentally conscious parents who may have questions or concerns about vaccines," says pediatrician Aparna Bole, MD, Medical Director of Community Integration at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital.

Common Concerns About Vaccines

"When people ask me about vaccine safety, I try to identify what their concerns are," she says. Usually, the concerns fall into one of two areas:

Overwhelming the immune system – Today's modern vaccines expose the immune system to fewer antigens, the substances that provoke the immune response, compared to older vaccines. That means that today's vaccines actually are challenging our children's immune systems with fewer antigens today than in previous generations.

In addition, from the time of birth children are exposed to hundreds of viruses and antigens that are not associated with vaccination. We are born with immune systems that are designed to respond to these challenges.

Multiple immunizations cause pain – It's more traumatic to have one shot every month for a prolonged period rather than getting it over with as quickly as is possible, Dr. Bole says.

"In my practice, the nurses who give vaccines are incredibly quick and efficient," she says.

Plus, the Centers for Disease Control's recommended immunization schedule is proven safe and allows kids to be immunized against these illnesses at the earliest possible time, providing optimal protection to children and communities.

How Vaccines Help Keep Everyone Healthy

"Vaccines not only protect ourselves and our children, they protect the most vulnerable in our communities," Dr. Bole says. This includes the very young, the very old, developing babies and other immune-compromised people.

"Vaccines are one of humankind's greatest public health victories," she says. "They have resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives saved."

Aparna Bole, MD is a general pediatrician and Medical Director of Community Integration at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

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