5 important facts to remember about vaccines

Vaccines prevent severe illness, brain damage, and death.

Vaccine preventable diseases are far more likely to cause injury or illness than vaccines. Most reactions to vaccines will be limited to a mild fever or sore arm.

Vaccine preventable illnesses can cause devastating consequences like paralysis, brain swelling/damage, or even death. Most vaccines are given in the first two years of a child’s life – this is when the human body is immunocompromised and at higher risk for infection from these deadly bacteria and viruses.

The physicians and providers at Pediatrics Northwest strongly support vaccination because we have seen firsthand the devastating consequences of diseases like pertussis, influenza, measles, Haemophilus influenzae, and pneumococcus – just to name a few. We are dedicated to doing everything we can to make sure our patients do not suffer from these devastating diseases.

Vaccines ingredients are safe.

Vaccines contain ingredients that allow them to be administered safely. The vaccine ingredients we are often asked about are found in incredibly low doses; lower doses than found in typical environmental exposures.

Aluminum has been included in vaccines for over 70 years as an adjuvant, or agent that helps improve the immune response. Aluminum is the most common metal found in nature. It is in our air, food, drink, and even in breastmilk and formula. Infants get more aluminum through breastmilk or formula than vaccines. Breastfed babies ingest about 7 milligrams of aluminum in the first six months and formula-fed babies ingest up to 120 milligrams in the first six months. Vaccines over the first year of life add only an additional 4.4 milligrams of aluminum. This additional aluminum has been shown to be safe, because aluminum that is taken into the body is mostly eliminated through the kidneys.

Formaldehyde is used to detoxify the diphtheria and tetanus toxins or to inactivate a virus, as in polio or hepatitis A. The tiny, trace amount which may be left over from this process is small, safe, and less than what is found in other products in our environment. Formaldehyde is also found in paper products, makeup, carpeting, furniture, flooring and other environmental exposures. Humans normally have higher levels of formaldehyde in their blood streams than what is found in vaccines.

Other ingredients in vaccines, like antibiotics and additives (e.g. gelatin, albumin, sucrose, lactose, glycine) help keep the vaccine safe during storage. These additives are similarly found in products used every day.

The intent of the adjuvants, additives and preservatives in vaccines is actually to keep them safe and effective.

Vaccines do not cause autism.

There is no link between vaccines and autism. The fear that vaccines cause autism arose from a study in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon. This study, published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, linked the MMR vaccine to autism. The paper study has since been discredited due to multiple errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. The Lancet retracted the study, and Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license.

The medical community responded seriously to the concern about a link between vaccines and autism, and since then multiple studies around the world have been done. None show a link between vaccines and autism.

Science has not yet determined the specific cause of autism, but studies have shown that symptoms of autism appear before the MMR vaccine is even administered, furthering the argument that there is no link between MMR and autism.

Vaccines will not overwhelm a child’s immune system when given as recommended by Peds NW providers.

Immediately from the time of birth, a newborn immune system gets exposed to many antigens/immune challenges. Simply traveling through the birth canal exposes a newborn to trillions of bacteria. Healthy babies begin to develop their immune system right away by creating antibodies to these bacteria and antigens.

Vaccines use only a small proportion of a baby’s immune system. The antigens (sugars and proteins) in the vaccines are required for a baby/child to create antibodies/immune response. Today’s vaccines contain fewer antigens than previously (the combination of all 14 vaccines contains only 150 immunologic components while in the past a single vaccine may have contained up to 200 immunologic components), while also creating a robust immune response in children.

Given the safety of the vaccine in general and the appropriate immune response in children, at Pediatrics Northwest we do not recommend a delayed or alternative vaccine schedule. There is no evidence that spacing out vaccines lessens adverse events. In our experience, spacing out vaccines over multiple clinic visits increases stress in children and makes them fearful of coming to the clinic.

Vaccine efficacy depends on herd immunity.

Vaccine efficacy depends not only on an individual receiving a vaccine, but also on individuals in the community being vaccinated. Many vaccine preventable illnesses are incredibly contagious, so it’s not always enough to vaccinate yourself/your child – you also need the community around you to do its part and vaccinate. For example, measles is so transmissible that 90-95% of people must be vaccinated to protect the entire population.

Unfortunately, vaccination rates in the Pacific Northwest are among the lowest in the country – this really compromises herd immunity for our children and community. States that have more robust vaccine laws tend to have higher rates of vaccination, and thus herd immunity.

At Pediatrics Northwest, we pride ourselves on providing high quality, compassionate care. With this in mind, it is our practice’s policy to verify and update your child’s vaccines at every patient encounter.

Every physician and provider at Pediatrics Northwest follows the CDC guidelines for vaccines. Further, we all make sure to vaccinate our own children and families in accordance with this schedule.

Vaccines are safe, effective, and an important tool in protecting our children. Physicians and providers at Pediatrics Northwest are committed to keeping our patients and community healthy. We’ll check vaccine records at each visit and update shots whenever needed. Immunization-only appointments can also be scheduled at your convenience.


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