Myth 9: Vaccines can provide 100 percent disease protection.
Not quite. The best vaccines are those made with live weakened virus, such as MMR and chicken pox, which are about 95 percent effective. The effectiveness of vaccines made with killed, or inactivated, virus is between 75 and 80 percent. That means there's a chance you could be vaccinated against a disease and still get it. But, says Dr. Edwards, if all children are vaccinated against an organism, it's less likely to hang around. That's why vaccinating an entire population is so important. "Not getting vaccinated is like failing to stop at a four-way stop," Dr. Edwards says. "If three people get vaccinated but one doesn't, the risk is not bad. But if two people don't get vaccinated, the burden of risk is greater on everyone."
Myth 10: It's best to wait until children are older before starting to give them vaccines.
Immunization schedules are designed to protect the most vulnerable patients from disease. If you wait to give the vaccine, you may miss the window when a child is most vulnerable. "When you get off the schedule, you really put your child at risk," Dr. Saari says.
Case in point: Last year in Wisconsin 300 children under age 1 came down with whooping cough, 177 of them less than 6 months old. Of these, half were hospitalized and three died. Yet, says Dr. Saari, "for a child to die from whooping cough in this day and age is criminal."
As our readers know, Babytalk supports parents' rights to make up their own mind about how to raise their kids. We try our hardest to avoid using the word "should" -- except when it comes to safety. You should put your baby to sleep on her back, you shouldstrap her into her car seat, and, yes, you should make sure she gets every vaccine on the schedule.