Vaccination Facts

A growing group of parents believe that their kids don't need vaccinations. Could their choices be putting your child's health on the line?

Why Some Won't Vaccinate

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

If you're like most parents, you don't think twice before having your children vaccinated. You want your kids to be healthy, so you make sure they get their shots. In fact, nearly 90 percent of kids in the United States are fully immunized against ailments that once killed thousands of children every year.

Yet despite the fact that vaccines can prevent many serious diseases, a small but growing number of parents are questioning the need for, and benefits of, immunization. Groups like the National Vaccine Information Center, a grassroots parents' organization that has publicized the possible risks of vaccines, are a source of increasing concern to public-health experts, since unimmunized kids can endanger a whole community.

"Some people don't believe that illnesses like measles and pertussis are still out there," says Benjamin Schwartz, M.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Atlanta. "So instead of focusing on the very significant risks of the disease, they focus on the very uncommon risks of the vaccine." It's easy to lose sight of the benefits of vaccination, especially when you hear rumors that it can cause everything from SIDS to brain damage. The conflicting information may have you wondering whether vaccines are really safe. To clear up some common myths, we asked the experts.

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