Should I Vaccinate My Children?

A science-mom reviews the risks and benefits of vaccines

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Five Things You Need to Know About Vaccines

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MMR Vaccine

1) Vaccines work.

Taking my home turf (Canada) as an example, case numbers dropped remarkably across the board before and after vaccines — by 87% (Whooping Cough) to 99–100% (Measles, Mumps, Rubella. Diptheria, Polio). Around the world, vaccines save millions of lives and prevent millions of cases of illness per year, especially in children under age five.

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2) You are NOT better off taking your chances with the disease.

Don’t underestimate the diseases that vaccines have rendered nearly invisible. Even those that are usually less serious, like measles, come with a non-trivial risk of serious complications. For example, even in developed countries, measles infections result in death in 1 to 3 of every 1,000 cases, due to respiratory and neurologic complications.

Yes, vaccines can cause side effects too, but these side effects are typically very minor — such as a low-grade fever, fusiness and soreness at the injection site. Severe side effects do happen, but are extremely rare. The specific risks vary from vaccine to vaccine and are readily accessible through public health agencies, such as the United States Centers for Disease Control.

3) Vaccines don’t cause autism.

Follow-up studies intended to test the original paper that sparked this unfortunate controversy failed again and again to find any connection. The original study that ignited the debate years ago has been retracted.

4) Vaccines don’t have to prevent every case of a disease in order to be beneficial.

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Photo by Mathias Arlund on Unsplash

5) Vaccine preventable diseases are not gone, and can easily resurge.

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Measles Cases in the United States (Source: US CDC)

6) Vaccines protect not only your children, but also society’s most vulnerable.

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Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

Closing Thoughts

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Science-Based Resources:

Recommended vaccine schedules (check with your public health authorities)

Help for parents seeking to understand vaccine risks and benefits

About Me

I am formally trained in human genetics (PhD) and spent the first decade of my career working in cancer research, drug development, and personalized medicine. I love being active, eating veggies, playing games, and talking nerdy.

Written by

Scientist (PhD Genetics @Stanford) * Mother * Passionate about science-based healthy choices * Lifelong learner * Founder: Fueled by Science

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