The question many parents seem to be asking themselves nowadays is, “Are vaccines actually safe for my kids?” It is without question that you can find information about the pros and cons of vaccinations. With so many opinions on each side of the debate, how can a parent effectively decide what is best for their children?
In a recent article written for the Wyoming Tribune, these very questions are discussed.
The article began by discussing a national survey released in June where out of 376 households, 80% of parents are uncomfortable getting their children vaccinated. Still, 95% said they would get the vaccinations.
Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Vaccine Program Office analyzed survey findings.
The biggest objection to vaccines is the pain of injection, cited by 38% of parents surveyed. About 26% had concerns that ingredients in vaccines are not safe; 30% feared the shots could cause autism or other learning disabilities. Some 32% worried about vaccine-caused fevers and 2% said they would not get their infants vaccinated.
“The overwhelming number of parents have vaccinated or plan to vaccinate,” said Allison Kennedy, CDC epidemiologist and survey author. “But they had a lot of questions.”
Survey results found that parents look for information and want facts from their doctors.
“We know vaccines are very safe and protect children from potentially devastating illnesses,” Kennedy said. Vaccines have been so successful that today’s parents have not experienced the illnesses that the shots prevent and may not realize their severity, she added.
Many parents who oppose vaccinations are concerned about a link between vaccines and autism. However, Dr. Bob Prentice of Cheyenne disagrees with that. Three studies in the U.S. looked at autism related to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, said Prentice, a pediatrician for 44 years. The studies did not find any association between the vaccine and illness, he said.
“The scientific data are not there,” he said. “We see (that) vaccines are important for the control and the spread of disease and the protection of children. “We’re actually seeing fewer local reactions and fewer calls about fever after shots.”
He added that today’s parents are asking more questions about vaccines. “I want people to deal from facts,” he said. He refers parents to websites like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
But critics — like Dr. Sherri Tenpenny of the Vaccine Information Center — say they are toxic.
And mothers like Carolyn Spranger of Cheyenne said her decision not to vaccinate her two young boys, Tristan, 4, and Avery, 1, came from her extensive research. Vaccines do not enter the body’s natural immune system, she said. “Our natural immunity isn’t able to work,” she said. ‘We’re messing with nature.”
Her research convinced her “without a doubt that I’m not going to take the chance” of vaccinating. She added that her confidence in her decision grows with her research. “It’s not natural to put a whole bunch of chemicals” into your body, she said. Getting vaccinated doesn’t mean a person won’t get the illness, she added.
Parents must do their research so they can make educated decisions whether to vaccinate their children, Spranger said.
“There are some great websites that take no sides. Their goal is to inform.” She recommends websites such as www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety, www.nvic.org, www.webmd.com, www.vaccinationcouncil.org, and www.vaclib.org.com.
In the end, it is a parent’s responsibility to figure out what is best for their children. Just as Ms. Spranger did, she researched and came up with what is best for her family. Other families should also do the same. They are the only ones that can truly decide if vaccines are safe and right for their kids.
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