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Why kids need vaccines

March 9, 2023
2 minutes

From birth through young adulthood, it’s important for kids get all of their recommended vaccines. Here’s a look at some common questions parents have about childhood vaccines—questions you may have too. Talk with your child’s primary care provider for further guidance.

Why are vaccines for kids important?

Many diseases, like measles and polio, are not as widespread as they were in the past. But the bacteria and viruses that cause some of them have stuck around, and they can make unvaccinated children very sick.

Vaccines have helped a lot to prevent illness and deaths from very contagious diseases like chickenpox. Most childhood vaccines are 90% to 99% effective in preventing disease. Vaccines also have a long history of being safe. Any side effects from them are generally mild and rarely serious.

Why should vaccines be given according to the recommended schedule?

Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians choose the ideal vaccine schedule to best protect children every year.

If your child doesn’t follow the schedule and get their immunizations on time, they will be much more at risk of getting sick. They’ll also be more likely to spread diseases to others.

When should kids get vaccinated?

Infants often get their first shot shortly after birth and then the majority of their vaccines by the time they’re 2 years old. That’s because many diseases are most severe in very young children. After that, children typically get shots before they start school, as well as during adolescence. Follow the schedule as directed by your child’s primary care provider.

Should some children not get vaccinated?

Yes, rarely. Kids with certain health issues, such as cancer or problems with their immune system, may need to avoid or delay vaccines. Discuss any modifications with your child’s primary care provider, who knows your child’s health history.

Is breastfeeding a substitute for vaccines?

No. Breastfeeding does give babies some protection against many diseases, but they still need vaccines to be fully protected.

Do vaccines cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)?

No. Thorough studies show that vaccines do not cause SIDS and may even help prevent it.

Does the MMR vaccine cause autism?

No. Although the timing of the MMR vaccine may appear to coincide with an autism diagnosis, evidence shows that autism spectrum disorder starts before a baby’s birth.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

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