Should I Have My Child Immunized?

As a parent, you’re responsible for the decisions that affect your young child and help shape their life. For many parents, the decision about vaccines is a relatively simple one, a necessary task designed to help a child stay healthy. But for some parents, the decision isn’t so clear cut. 

At Nevada Pediatric Specialists, our team of caring, compassionate health care providers offers not only a full complement of childhood immunizations, but also the information parents need to feel confident about their immunization decisions. If you're wondering if vaccinations are right for your child, here’s what you should know.

How vaccines work

When a child is born, they have some immunity from their mother. But that natural immunity is limited and falls far short of providing adequate protection against many serious diseases.

Vaccines contain antigens, substances derived from specific germs that prompt the immune system to react. These antigens are not complete germs, so they can’t cause disease. A few vaccines contain a live virus that’s been inactivated or severely weakened so they promote an immune response without causing disease.

Once the vaccine is given, your child’s immune system kicks in, making special antibodies designed to fight that specific germ. Each disease has a unique structure, which means it also requires a unique antibody to attack and destroy it. That’s why children (and adults, too) need a vaccine for each individual germ instead of just one vaccine to fight all germs.

Natural exposure to germs can protect against disease

Many parents decide not to get vaccines because they believe their child will develop immunity on their own through exposure to others who are infected. It’s true — if your child gets measles, their immune system will create special antibodies to fight off the disease — the same antibodies that would be created if your child had the measles vaccine. 

The problem is that the infection can be so strong that it overwhelms the immune system, causing serious problems, like deafness or intellectual disabilities — even death. Having a vaccine causes the immune system to produce those important disease-fighting antibodies without involving a potentially life-threatening infection.

Vaccines do not cause autism

Many people who are concerned about vaccine safety worry that childhood immunizations can cause autism. If that’s a concern of yours, you should know that multiple studies have shown there is no link between childhood vaccines and the development of autism. 

A vaccine can’t give you the disease it’s intended to prevent

A measles vaccine doesn’t give your child measles. Some children (and adults) may develop flu-like symptoms for a day or two after a vaccine. This is a natural response that indicates the immune system is kicking in and working hard to produce disease-fighting antibodies. It’s not an indication that your child has become infected from the vaccine.

In rare cases, a vaccine may cause an allergic reaction. If your child has a history of allergies, our team can recommend alternate vaccines designed for people who might otherwise have a reaction.

Vaccines do not weaken the immune system

Your child’s immune system is going to work and respond the same way regardless of whether they’re immunized. Having a vaccine does not weaken the system’s ability to produce antibodies to fight off other illnesses.

Learn more about childhood vaccinations

When it comes to your child’s immunizations, the choice is ultimately yours. Decades of successful vaccine use have helped protect generations of children safely and effectively. If you do have concerns, educate yourself using reliable sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health.

You can also schedule a consultation with our team by calling our offices — we’re located in Henderson or Las Vegas, Nevada — or by using our online form to book an appointment.

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