Making decisions for your child’s health and future can be nerve-racking. But one decision that shouldn’t keep you up at night: vaccinating your kids.
What are vaccines?
Most vaccines contain antigens — “dead” versions of the bacteria and viruses they are protecting against. Because they’re a protein or a killed version of the germ, they cannot cause disease. Antigens work by tricking the immune system into thinking it has been exposed to the real disease. Our immune system uses these antigens to remember what viruses and bacteria look like. That way, if the actual bug invades your body, it knows how to fight it off.
Is an infant’s immune system mature enough for vaccines?
Yes. A baby’s immune system is fully developed but inexperienced. It has all the parts needed to fight diseases. Vaccines teach their immune system how to recognize and protect against certain infections. Modern vaccines contain far fewer antigens than the original versions decades ago. As science progresses, vaccines keep getting safer.
Are vaccines well-studied?
The medical literature contains thousands of studies on vaccines, spanning more than 100 years. That includes cellular and molecular studies, safety studies, long-term population studies, animal studies, single- and combined-vaccine studies, vaccine delivery methods, and much more. Studies have been done by a wide range of people around the world, including independent university studies, government labs, and drug companies.
Are additives in vaccines safe?
Ingredients in vaccines are tested for safety. In fact, they are used to make vaccines safer and to help them last longer and work more effectively. Some people worry about the added ingredients because they have chemical-sounding names. However, just because something has a complex name does not mean it is inherently dangerous.
Do vaccines cause autism?
No. The vast majority of people with autism have abnormal brain development. They are born that way, and vaccines don’t change that. Previous generations were not tested for autism. Today, the tests for autism are very different than they used to be, and the definition of autism includes a wider variety of symptoms. Testing has also become much more common, leading to improved detection and an apparent rise in autism cases. Twenty years ago, very mild cases were not included, or even tested for, whereas they are today. Now autism is considered a spectrum of diseases.
Our family eats healthy foods. Doesn’t that protect us against diseases?
Paying attention to proper nutrition is important for your family. A wholesome and nourishing diet is vital to maintaining proper health and a healthy weight, and it is a big contributor to a strong immune system. However, people with healthy diets can still catch infectious diseases and should always be properly vaccinated.
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