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Your Most Common Vaccine Questions, Answered

Wouldn't my unvaccinated child be protected if all the other kids are immunized?

"With the exception of tetanus, which is not transmitted person-to-person, if everyone in the world was vaccinated but your child, you could argue it's better not to be vaccinated," says Dr. Offit.  "The problem is, not everyone in the world is vaccinated. These diseases still occur commonly in the developing world and occasionally in this country as became evident by recent outbreaks of measles, pertussis, mumps, and Hib meningitis. Also there is a societal responsibility here; there are hundreds of thousands of people who can't be vaccinated, because they're getting chemotherapy or immunosuppressive drugs for their diseases or transplants. They depend on living among a group of people who are vaccinated, and if that vaccination wanes, they're at higher risk."

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?
Do these diseases even still exist?
What happens if parents choose not to vaccinate?
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?