Q: I have chosen not to give my child the required shots and he has not gotten sick. I believe I have made the right decision and avoided risks. What do you think?
A: This is a question that comes up often. In the past decade, the state of Florida has made it easier to request an exemption for required childhood vaccines. There is much good information and misinformation as to why one should or should not vaccinate a child. Unless a doctor determines a medical reason against, the child should have their vaccines.
As a health officer, I always attempted to sit down with a parent who has refused the vaccination program and pleaded with them to reconsider. Here is why!
With the advent of vaccines, killer diseases like polio disappeared. Most would survive their childhood illnesses but serious complications and death affected a significant percentage.
Due to vaccines, Polio is all but eradicated in the world. It is rare to see whooping cough, as well as tetanus; all due to lifesaving vaccines. Because most children are vaccinated, many who choose not to be vaccinated will be protected. They will not be exposed to the illness due to those who are vaccinated.
The unvaccinated child will be at risk if the family moves to a country where the disease is present, or the unvaccinated person travels. More importantly, childhood illnesses affecting a teen or adult tend to be more severe with a higher rate of complications.
Another concern raised is the safety of the vaccines. Yes, there is an occasional problem, typically a transient one but overall vaccines are very safe. Considering all the pros, and cons, I can relate that all three of my children got their vaccines on time. Adults too should talk to their doctor about their need for vaccines which may need a periodic booster, like Tetanus, and vaccines that may not have been available in the past that would be appropriate now.
Vaccines have eliminated disease, saved millions of lives,and prevented disability. It is unwise not to provide a child the benefit of vaccines. Speak to your doctor about vaccines.
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