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Your Most Common Vaccine Questions, Answered

What are vaccines exactly?

Vaccines are made of inactive or very weakened forms of a bacteria or virus. When they enter the body (either orally or through an injection), the immune system responds by creating protective antibodies. These antibodies then live in the body, providing protection against any exposure to the full-force version of the disease.

Are vaccines safe?

Without daily reminders of the threat of these diseases, some people have started to fear the vaccines more than the diseases that they prevent. In recent years, a very vocal anti-vaccine movement has emerged, suggesting that vaccines are to blame for everything from allergies to diabetes to asthma to autism. While none of these claims have been proven true, there is still a growing community of scared parents who choose not to vaccinate their children based on this misinformation. In turn, these well-meaning parents end up putting their children at risk, and endangering their community as a whole.

As with any medical intervention, nothing is 100-percent risk free. But when you weigh the risks and benefits, the benefits of protecting your child against deadly diseases far outweigh the very remote risk that the vaccine may cause a reaction. The vast majority of children receiving an immunization will not have any reaction and if they do, it will be a minor one, like redness or soreness at the injection site.

Can my baby's immune system handle so many shots?
Why do kids today get so many more vaccines than they did years ago?
Is it okay to skip some vaccines?
Do these diseases even still exist?
What happens if parents choose not to vaccinate?
Wouldn't my unvaccinated child be protected if all the other kids are immunized?
Doesn't getting the disease itself give my child better immunity than she'd get from a vaccine?
Can't I wait to vaccinate my child until she is ready to start school?
What is thimerosal?
Doesn't the flu vaccine still contain thimerosol?
How worried should I be about side effects?
If my child is sick, should I wait he's better to have him vaccinated?
If I'm breastfeeding, isn't my baby immune to all the diseases I'm immune to?