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The Value of Vaccination: Truths and Myths

Posted on Apr 21, 2016

As Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital recognizes National Infant Immunization Week, we are reminding parents of the importance of getting children vaccinated. Vaccines reduce the spread of infectious diseases and are considered the most successful and cost-effective method of preventing disease and death.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says parents should make sure children receive their recommended immunizations by age 2 to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases such as whooping cough and measles. However, AAP statistics show that 85 percent of health care providers have had a parent refuse a vaccine each year.

Many times these parents may be haunted by false beliefs of the harm immunizations could cause. Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital is helping to break down the many myths surrounding childhood immunizations and highlighting the truth behind some of the top myths:

MYTH 1: Vaccines cause autism

By far the most common reason parents refuse vaccines is a 1998 study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield which suggested that the MMR vaccine led to autism in children. However, many of the world's major medical organizations have dismissed the study because of false data. In fact, today's latest research shows factors such as genetics, issues with the mother's pregnancy and brain abnormalities are more likely to lead to autism - not immunizations.

MYTH 2: Vaccines have too many side effects and weaken the immune system

Vaccinations don't weaken the immune system's response. In fact, vaccines are one of the most effective methods of fighting diseases. Vaccines also reduce the chance of diseases spreading to the rest of the population. As for side effects, reactions to vaccines are typically minor but could include fever or redness, swelling or soreness at the site where the shot was given. If your child presents with more serious symptoms, call your doctor. Remember, while a shot may cause minor pain for your child it is nothing compared to the suffering of a potentially deadly disease.

MYTH 3: Vaccines are too expensive

Many health departments actually provide infants, children and teens with free immunizations and studies have shown that for every dollar spent on immunizations, $3 is saved on direct health costs, and $10 is saved on societal costs. The same study found that immunizations prevent 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease, saving $13.5 billion in direct costs.

Learn the recommended immunizations for children from birth through 6 years old.

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