Can I make my own immunization schedule or use one that I found online?

The immunization schedule is studied extensively and is the best defense against infections that may have serious complications including pneumonia, meningitis, cancer, and even death. The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Institute of Medicine have all studied and approved the current immunization schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) immunization schedule, which recommends specific immunizations be given during specific time periods, has been developed to provide the best immune response and protection.

Are the illnesses immunizations prevent a big deal?

Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in Ohio prove these illnesses are still dangerous. In 2014, Ohio experienced outbreaks of the mumps and measles. Some patients suffering from these illnesses experienced very serious complications, including deafness and decreased fertility. Chickenpox (varicella) can cause serious complications and for some children, especially those who are immune compromised, it can be life threatening. Pregnant women who contract chickenpox may miscarry or the fetus may have abnormalities, such as skin scars or blindness. Each year in the U.S., rotavirus (a virus that causes diarrhea) leads to more than 200,000 emergency room visits, 70,000 hospitalizations and 20-60 deaths.

How do I know what immunizations my son or daughter should receive?

The recommended immunization schedule is designed to protect infants, children, preteens and teens from potentially life-threatening diseases. The schedule was created to provide the protection they need before they are likely to be exposed and to continue that protection over time.

Will a delayed immunization schedule be safer for my son or daughter?

Alternative vaccine schedules are a bad idea. The current vaccination schedule is designed to protect infants against serious diseases as early as possible. Delaying or splitting up vaccinations leaves children, and the general public, unnecessarily vulnerable to serious diseases. Studies show a delayed schedule increases the risk the child will never get fully vaccinated, and therefore will not be fully protected against potentially dangerous diseases.

Why does my son or daughter need to be immunized if everyone around us is vaccinated?

This is often referred to as “herd immunity,” which is when a large percentage of the population is vaccinated and immune to disease and protects those who are not. In order for “herd immunity” to be effective in protecting those who cannot be vaccinated, including people being treated for cancers, people who have allergies to vaccine ingredients and some others, all those who can be vaccinated must be.

What are the common side effects of immunizations?

Vaccines are continually monitored for safety, and like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. The overwhelming majority of vaccine-related side effects are mild and short-lived. The risk associated with these side effects is significantly lower than the risk of having severe illness or death from the disease the vaccine is designed to prevent. The most commonly reported side effects include: Redness, mild tenderness or bruising around the injection site; mild muscle pain; low-grade fever; mild irritability; nausea, and fatigue.

Do immunizations cause SIDS?

No. Multiple research studies have shown no link between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and immunizations. In 2003 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed studies looking for possible relationships between SIDS and vaccines, concluding vaccines do not cause SIDS. In fact, SIDS deaths have been declining since 1994 when the American Academy of Pediatrics began the “Back to Sleep” campaign.

Why should my son or daughter be immunized against diseases that aren’t around anymore?

Many serious diseases are nearly eradicated thanks to vaccines. But, unless the disease is completely eliminated, it’s important to keep immunizing. For example, polio used to be a very deadly disease in the United States, crippling and killing tens of thousands of people in the 1940s and 1950s. The U.S. has been polio-free since 1979 thanks to a very effective vaccine. However, polio still exists in other countries and could be just a plane-ride away from the United States. This is why children in the United States still receive four doses of the polio vaccine.

Can getting so many vaccines at once harm my son or daughter?

Babies have stronger immune systems than you might think, and they can handle far more germs than what they receive from vaccines. In fact, the amount of germs in vaccines is just a small percentage of the germs babies’ immune systems deal with every day. A lot of consideration and research went into creating the immunization schedule most doctors use, and it has consistently been proven safe and effective. The use of alternative schedules (spreading or “spacing out” vaccines so babies don’t receive so many shots at each check-up) is actually more likely to make a baby sick. Studies show that many babies on alternative immunization schedules never get all the vaccines they need. In addition, alternative schedules can be a real hassle. Spacing out vaccines over more doctor visits means that you’ll have to take your child to the doctor — and your child will have to deal with getting a shot — more often.