COVID-19 Updates

The Truth About Your Child’s Vaccinations

Vaccines are the best and safest way to protect your children from many illnesses. If everyone continues to protect themselves through vaccination, diseases that are preventable by vaccination will be rare. However, when people do not get vaccinated, these rare infections become frequent, resulting in outbreaks of infections.

Nurse giving an infant boy the flu shot

Immunizations Help Prevent Serious Illness in Children

“Diseases like polio and measles, which are now rare in the U.S., can begin to spread again if people don’t get vaccinated. These diseases still circulate because there are unvaccinated people. And with some diseases, all it takes is one case to cause concern in a community,” said Andi Shane, MD, MPH, System Medical Director, Infectious Diseases. The measles virus is one of the most contagious viruses and spreads quickly among people who are not immune.

These are some questions we often receive and the important answers you should know when it comes to children and immunizations.

Are Vaccines Safe?

Yes. Vaccines are some of the safest and most effective medications we have.

All vaccines are tested before being recommended for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most vaccines contain a dead or weakened form of the disease-causing virus or bacteria. Vaccines are designed to make the immune system think that it has been exposed to a bacteria or virus, so that the body creates antibodies. This helps protect the vaccinated person when they are exposed to someone with that bacteria or virus.

Should I Delay Vaccines or Space Them Out?

No. It’s important to talk to your child’s doctor about your child’s immunization schedule. Changing the vaccine schedule means delaying protection and may mean that your child will need more shots. Vaccines are studied along with other vaccines so that they can be reviewed in the way they would be given to a child in the real world.

Will Giving Babies Multiple Vaccines at One Time Overload Their Immune System?

No. Many studies have been done to evaluate the safety of giving a child multiple vaccines. A child’s immune system is exposed to many more antigens (substances that cause your body to have an immune response and create antibodies) in everyday life than what they will receive through the immunization schedule.

Does My Child Need Immunizations if He’s Doing Remote Learning?

Yes. Children should be vaccinated regardless of whether they are heading back into a classroom or doing their lessons remotely.

“They’re going to interact with friends, family and others in the community,” Dr. Shane adds. “Immunizations both keep your child from becoming ill and prevent them from spreading a vaccine-preventable bacteria or virus to others.”

Do Vaccines Cause Autism Spectrum Disorder?

No. Many scientific studies have continued to show that vaccines do not cause Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Where Should I Get Facts About Vaccine Safety?

In the age of social media, it’s easy to be exposed to false information, so it’s even more important that you make sure your sources of information on vaccines are factual. Your child’s pediatrician is your first source of reliable information. They are required to give you written information on the benefits and risks of each immunization before your child is vaccinated. Reading this material can help you make a well-informed decision.

Another source of in-depth information on vaccine safety is the CDC.

What vaccinations does my child need?

Your child will receive most of their childhood vaccines by the time they are six years old. Many vaccines are given more than once, at different ages and in different combinations.
You can also download an easy-to-read immunization schedule and record form from the CDC.

Download

Andi L. Shane, MD, MPH, MSc, is Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Dr. Shane completed an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a pediatric infectious disease fellowship at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Shane has broad experience and interests in the field of pediatric infectious diseases and is committed to the care of children with infections with special pathogens in protected care environments working with children’s hospital preparedness teams.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.