All available vaccines and their known side effects are listed on the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) website. You can take a look at the listed risks and benefits and weigh them for yourself. Almost every vaccine has a potential side effect, but most are mild and include symptoms such as tenderness at the site of injection, fatigue and a low grade fever.
The folks most adamant about the dangers of vaccines typically aren't citing credible research and their claims will not be reflected on governmental websites, like the CDC's. Vaccines are rigorously tested before they are available for public consumption and closely monitored for detrimental side effects.
One of the most popular myths about vaccination is that certain vaccines administered during infancy cause autism, a neural development disorder. Specifically the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines are causally associated with autism. This correlation between autism and vaccination likely came about because the administration of these vaccines is timed with the developmental manifestations of the early symptoms of autism. Also, autism rates in the US seemed to rise at the same time as vaccination rates. However, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies did a thorough review of all studies pertaining to this alleged autism/vaccination link and found there to be no causal relationship. Autism is a serious issue and demands research into its causes and origins, but it is definitely not related to vaccines.
While many of the theories about the dangers of vaccines are unfounded, a serious danger of any vaccination is the potential for an allergic reaction, which can be severe and fatal. This type of reaction is extremely rare, but if you see anything in your recently vaccinated child to indicate something more than a mild or moderate side effect, seek medical help immediately. These types of reactions often happen within minutes of the vaccination administration, so fortunately a medical professional will likely be near by.
As with any medical decision involving your family's health, the most important person to consult is your pediatrician. Find a doctor who syncs up with your beliefs and with whom you feel comfortable asking questions. He or she will guide you through the many series of vaccines available to your children, including the risks and benefits of each, and together you can decide what makes sense for your family's health needs.
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