Myth 7: You shouldn't give a vaccine to a child who has a cold.
It's reasonable to think that a sick child would be more likely to have a bad reaction to a vaccine or that it might present an added burden to her immune system if she's fighting off a cold. Yet studies show that having a mild illness doesn't affect a child's ability to react appropriately to the vaccine.
"Certainly if a child comes in with a fever of 102 and a rip-snorting ear infection, it's not the best time for a vaccine," says Dr. Rennels. "But a low-grade fever, mild respiratory infection, or a little diarrhea shouldn't be reasons to delay one, especially if the illness is on the way out."
Of course, vaccines can themselves trigger side effects, including fever and rash, as well as soreness at the site of the injection, but these are rarely cause for alarm. The five-in-one Pediarix is more likely to cause a low fever than the individual shots are, but many moms say the fewer injections for their child, the better. Call your doctor right away if your child has hives (which can indicate an allergic reaction), a fever of 105 degrees or higher, or convulsions.
Myth 8: I had chicken pox when I was a kid and it isn't a big deal.
Like several common childhood diseases, chicken pox isn't a big deal for most kids. "But on rare occasions children can die from it," Dr. Rennels observes.
Before the vaccine was introduced, many children were hospitalized each year with serious complications, including pneumonia and dangerous skin infections. "Chicken pox lesions can become infected with staph, including necrotizing fasciitis -- the 'flesh-eating' bacteria," says Dr. Rennels. Getting the vaccine is especially important now that less of the chicken pox virus is in circulation. "Children who don't get chicken pox or the vaccine are at risk of getting it as an adult, which is a much more serious illness."