Fact Or Fiction

Benefits vs. Risks

FACT: The benefits of preventing disease with a vaccine far outweigh the risks.”

It's important to remember that all medical procedures have a risk of side effects. Vaccines are no different, but the risk of serious side effects is very small compared to the benefits vaccination provides. The diseases you are protecting your child against are far more dangerous than nearly any possible vaccine side effect. It is always better to prevent a disease with a vaccine than let your child get sick and risk complications.

For example, some parents think of chickenpox as a harmless, itchy rite of passage every child must go through. Some parents refuse the vaccine for this reason, or because they fear that the risk of side effects outweighs the risks associated with the disease. The truth is, chickenpox is often much worse than parents think.

  • 1 in 10 unvaccinated children who get the disease will have a complication serious enough to result in a visit to a healthcare provider.
  • Most children who get chickenpox will have 200-500 sores covering their body.
  • Before the vaccine, 10,600 persons were hospitalized and 100 to 150 died as a result of chickenpox in the U.S. every year.

In comparison, about 1 in 5 children will experience soreness or swelling where the shot was given, 1 in 10 will have mild fever, and 1 in 25 will have a mild rash

In the case of a serious vaccine side effect, there is a governmental system available to care for that child. While serious side effects are rare, parents are encouraged to report any severe side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which serves to report, analyze, and make incidences of adverse side effects available to the public. It is important to note that VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, no matter if it is coincidental or actually caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.

Thanks to vaccines, we have seen a dramatic decrease of new cases of infectious diseases and their devastating effects. If we stop vaccinating we will see these diseases return. Below is an example of the amazing strides we’ve already taken with vaccines.

The Impact of Vaccines in the United States

Disease Baseline 20th Century Annual Cases 2006 Cases Percent Decrease
Measles 503,282 55 99.9%
Diphtheria 175,885 0 100%
Mumps 152,209 6,584 95.7%
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) 147,271 15,632 89.4%
Smallpox 48,164 0 100%
Rubella 47,745 11 99.9%
Haemophilus influenzae type b, invasive (HiB) 20,000 29 99.9%
Polio 16,316 0 100%
Tetanus 1,314 41 96.9%

It may be hard to compare the worldwide benefits of immunization to your own child’s health, but following the recommended vaccine schedule can prevent your child from 15 diseases by the age of two. The risks and complications of these diseases can cause serious, long-term disabilities, hospitalization, and in the worst cases, death. Vaccines literally save lives everyday.

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