To prevent the spread of disease, it is more important than ever to vaccinate your child.
In the United States, vaccines have reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable disease and death still exist and can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines. Vaccine-preventable diseases have many social and economic costs: sick children miss school and can cause parents to lose time from work. These diseases also result in doctor's visits, hospitalizations, and even premature deaths.
Some diseases (like polio and diphtheria) are becoming very rare in the United States. Of course, they are becoming rare largely because we have been vaccinating against them. Unless we can completely eliminate the disease, it is important to keep immunizing. Even if there are only a few cases of disease today, if we take away the protection given by vaccination, more and more people will be infected and will spread disease to others.
We don't vaccinate just to protect our children. We also vaccinate to protect our grandchildren and their grandchildren. With one disease, smallpox, we eradicated the disease. Our children don't have to get smallpox shots any more because the disease no longer exists. If we keep vaccinating now, parents in the future may be able to trust that diseases like polio and meningitis won't infect, cripple, or kill children.
In light of recent questions about vaccine safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered the following information for parents:
"Vaccines are held to the highest standard of safety. The United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in history. Law requires years of testing before a vaccine can be licensed. Once in use, vaccines are continually monitored for safety and efficacy. Immunizations, like any medication, can cause side effects. However, a decision not to immunize a child also involves risk. It is a decision to put the child and others who come into contact with him or her at risk of contracting a disease that could be dangerous or deadly. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continually work to make already safe vaccines even safer." In the rare event that a vaccine injures a child, he or she may be compensated through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP); call 1-800-338-2382."