As a parent, you make educated choices about your child every day. You research which car seat has the highest safety ratings, you read food labels to find the best nutrition for your child, and you consult friends and experts about which sleep options keep baby healthy, happy, and secure. Your choice to immunize is no different. Making an educated choice about immunization is critical to protecting your child’s health.
Parents like you choose vaccination for a variety of reasons:
- Because vaccinating prevents unnecessary illness and suffering for your child.
- Because vaccinating protects loved ones and your community from disease, including the vulnerable members of their community.
- Because experts agree it’s the best thing you can do to keep your child healthy and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Because vaccinating extends beyond your community to help eliminate disease worldwide.
- Because the facts speak for themselves!
Only a very small percentage of parents choose not to vaccinate their children. This decision carries serious health consequences for their child and the community. Here in Colorado, about 6 percent of kids are exempt from school-required immunizations for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. While all parents want what’s best for their kids, the choice to refuse vaccination is not without risk.
Risks of not vaccinating include:
- Increased risk for infectious disease- A study of children in Colorado found that children who were not immunized were 6 times more likely to be infected with pertussis (whooping cough) and 22 times more likely to be infected with measles than their immunized peers.
- Exclusion from school or child-care in case of outbreak- Children with exemptions will not be allowed to attend school or care settings and quarantined if the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment declares a public health emergency due to epidemic disease.
- Limits to travel- Some vaccines are required for travel to other countries (such as the meningitis vaccine) and are strongly recommended for areas where vaccine preventable disease are still present (such as polio in parts of Asia and Africa).
While parents may have concerns about the safety of immunizations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carefully tests the ingredients and immunization schedule to ensure the safest product for your child. Years of research, hundreds to thousands of volunteers, and decades of surveillance ensure that the shot your doctor gives your child will protect them from disease as safely as possible. You can follow “The Journey of Your Child’s Vaccine” on the CDC’s website.
The reality is we’ll never be able to vaccinate 100 percent of kids. Some children cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. This fact makes it even more important for parents of healthy children to make the decision to vaccinate. The more children who are protected, the less likely we are to see vaccine-preventable disease in our communities.
Making the choice to immunize is not always easy, but, thanks to many credibly organizations, you can access the facts and make an informed decision for your family.