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Your Most Common Vaccine Questions, Answered

Do these diseases even still exist?

Unlike our parents and grandparents, we're lucky to live in an era that has benefited from a widely immunized population. Many of the shots that our kids receive prevent diseases that many of us haven't even heard of - diphtheria, anyone? "Many parents today don't realize how serious these diseases are because they never have had any personal experience with them," says Dr. Offit. "Our parents' generation saw what diphtheria, pertussis, and polio could do. Mumps used to cause deafness, and in men, infertility. Measles used to strike four million children a year, causing 100,000 of them to go to the hospital and 500 to die every year.  The fact that many parents today don't know how serious these diseases can be reflects how successful vaccines have been in our country."

What are vaccines exactly?
Are vaccines safe?
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?
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?