SCHOOLS

What to know about vaccinations

Be sure to check your immunization status and stay up to date with vaccines before the school year begins. (copyright Monkey Business/stock.Adobe.com)

What to know about vaccinations

(StatePoint) As misinformation continues to spread about vaccines, medical experts are reminding parents and the general public that vaccinations save lives.

“Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective, safest interventions to prevent illness and protect public health,” said Dr. Patrice A. Harris, president of the American Medical Association (AMA).

The AMA offers these answers to commonly asked questions:

1. Are vaccines safe? Yes, vaccines prevent individual illness and protect the health of the public. The U.S. has the safest vaccine supply in its history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most common side effects are typically very mild, such as pain or swelling at the injection site.

2. Is it true that if everyone else is vaccinated, my family doesn’t need to be? No. Vaccines not only protect the child or adult who receive them, but also the health of their communities. Some people cannot be vaccinated – including very young children, cancer patients and those who are immunosuppressed. As evident from recent measles outbreaks in several states, when individuals aren’t immunized as a matter of personal preference or misinformation, they put themselves and others at risk of disease.

3. What vaccinations do my children need? Children should be vaccinated according to the recommended schedule of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is designed to protect young children before they’re likely to be exposed to serious diseases. For the recommended childhood vaccination schedule, visit cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules.

4. What’s the earliest age children can be vaccinated? Children can receive their first flu vaccine starting at 6 months old. The recommended age for the first dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is 12 to 15 months of age. If you live in a community experiencing an outbreak, or if you travel internationally, your baby may be vaccinated as early as 6 months of age. Talk to your pediatrician.

5. I’m an adult – do I need to get vaccinated? Yes, adults need vaccines too. Sometimes immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time. Talk with your doctor and visit www2a.cdc.gov/nip/adultimmsched for an online assessment tool.

6. Hasn’t the U.S. eradicated the major diseases that require vaccines? One of the country’s greatest public health success stories is the decrease in infectious diseases as the result of vaccines. That success has led some parents to stop vaccinating their children against diseases like measles, meningitis, polio and diphtheria. However, these diseases still exist. If people stop getting vaccinated, these diseases could reemerge.

More information can be found at cdc.gov/vaccines.

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