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Class is Officially in Session!

Sarah Kaddour · August 21, 2018

Vaccines 101 - Lessons 3, 4, & 5

A Continued Discussion About Vaccines

With back to school time in full swing, we want to talk about a very controversial topic in the pediatric healthcare community: Vaccinations.

Lead by Dr. Sabrina Clark, our series of blogs will dig into Vaccines 101. If you’re just joining us, have you read Lessons 1 & 2 yet?

Lessons 3, 4 and 5 will cover: The impact of Vaccines on Childhood Illness, Recommended Vaccine Schedules and Side Effects.

Lesson 3: What is the Impact of Vaccines on Childhood Illness

What diseases have been eradicated by vaccines?

When is the last time you heard of a child in the United States being diagnosed with Polio? Most people would probably say never, or not in a very long time. That is because it was deemed totally eradicated in the US in September of 1994.  Additionally, smallpox, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Rubella have all been eradicated by the use of vaccines.

What is one the most effective preventive health measures in the history of medicine in the United States?

Immunizations!  The number of cases of most vaccine-preventable illnesses in the United States declined by more than 90% after routine childhood immunizations were introduced. Check out the table below for more details.

Lesson 4: What is the recommended vaccine schedule?

Why is there a standardized and recommended vaccine schedule?

This schedule is in place for many reasons. In general, vaccines are given at specific ages based on disease prevalence in certain age groups and to insure that the developing immune system is able to build proper immunity to the disease.

What could happen if you detour from the vaccine schedule?

Detouring from this schedule in any way could expose a child to life threatening diseases that may be prevalent in their age group, and there are no evidence-based reports on benefits associated with vaccine delay.

If we miss a vaccine, should we start over?

If your child misses a shot, you don’t need to start over, just go back to your child’s doctor for the next shot. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have questions about vaccines.

What is the recommended vaccine schedule for children starting from birth to 6 years of age and  7-18 years old?

Birth to 6 Year Old Vaccine Schedule

7-18 Year Old Vaccine Schedule

Lesson 5: What are the common side effects of vaccines?

In general, some common side effects that can result after receiving a vaccination include fever, fussiness, and irritation/redness/swelling at the vaccine site.

Are there more serious reactions to vaccines?

As with all medications, there is always a possibility for a more serious reaction such as anaphylaxis or a skin infection, however these incidence are very rare.

Can I get more information on serious reactions to vaccines?

The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) keeps track of adverse reactions associated with vaccine administration, and patients are strongly encouraged to call and report any serious reactions so they are documented and monitored overtime. You can report adverse reactions to specific vaccines to the United States Department of Health and Human Services using VAERS at 1-800-822-7967.

Take home points from Lesson 3, 4 & 5:

  • The number of cases of vaccine-preventable illnesses in the United States has declined dramatically after routine childhood immunization was introduced. However after vaccine refusal became a big trend, those diseases have begun to resurface and the incidence continue to rise.
  • There is a specific recommended vaccine schedule from birth to 18 years old. Detouring or delaying this schedule has not been proven to be beneficial and could be potentially harmful.
  •  There are common adverse reactions associated with vaccines that are for the most part minor. More serious reactions are relatively rare and should be reported to the VAERS.
  • At the end of the day, a vaccination is a choice that parents have the right to make. As healthcare providers, our job is to provide evidence based recommendations, advice, and follow the standard of care for our patients. It is important to keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your child’s pediatrician.

Make sure all of your questions and concerns regarding vaccines are addressed. During your child’s health care visits, by federal law your provider is required to provide handouts called Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) on every vaccine your child is supposed to receive. If you would like to read about them beforehand, check out the VIS handouts here.

Continued learning!

Read Lesson 1: What is a vaccine?
Read Lesson 2: What is the controversy?

Disclaimer: Your instructor will disclose that her personal and profession opinion and recommendation is to always vaccinate and to follow the recommended immunization schedule. However, this article is solely meant to be informative, touch base on some of the controversies associated with vaccines, and address some of the concerns/questions that parents have about vaccines and their true purpose.

References and Additional Reading List: