Pediatrician Addresses 4 Vaccine Concerns

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Vaccines provide the best protection against dangerous diseases – not only for yourself but for those around you.

It’s estimated that the flu vaccine alone prevented 5 million cases of flu and 71,000 hospitalizations in the 2015 to 2016 season. Dr. Vincent Kolanko, a family medicine physician with Mon Health Wedgewood Primary Care, recommends that both adults and children receive the vaccination to prevent spreading the disease to others.

“Some people can’t get vaccinated due to their age or health conditions,” said Dr. Kolanko. “Those people rely on others being vaccinated for their protection.”

Dr. Kolanko is familiar with concerns surrounding vaccines and the value in getting them.

Are Vaccines Still Necessary?

Yes.

Although the number of cases of diseases like polio, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and measles has decreased, Dr. Kolanko still pushes patients to stay up to date on their vaccinations.

“It’s because of vaccines that the occurrence of these diseases has decreased tremendously,” said Dr. Kolanko. “But they are still in existence, and if vaccination rates decrease, there’s a chance the diseases can make a comeback.”

Take measles for example. In 2000, public health officials declared that measles was eliminated in the U.S. But in 2014, more than 600 measles cases were reported in this country. Researchers linked many of the new instances to parents choosing not to vaccinate their children.

Why Do Babies Need So Many Shots?

When little ones get their “baby shots” on time, they’re protected against 14 infectious diseases by age 2. The shot schedule is designed to protect babies before they’re likely to be exposed to the conditions.

“That’s critically important, because babies and young children may become very ill if they catch one of these infections,” said Dr. Kolanko.

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

One in 68 children in the U.S. has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition that affects how people communicate, behave, learn and interact with others. Researchers are still sorting out the causes of ASD.

It was a common concern in the past that vaccines might play a role in a child having autism. However, subsequent studies found no evidence for this. Today, medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that vaccines do not cause ASD.

What About Vaccine Side Effects?

Concerns about side effects from any vaccine are common. Dr. Kolanko said any side effect from a vaccine is generally mild and short-lived. Some of the most common side effects are soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site. This includes the flu shot.

“Severe side effects from vaccinations are rare,” said Dr. Kolanko. “And no, you will not get the flu from a flu shot. The benefits of getting vaccinated greatly outweigh any risks.”

Getting routine vaccinations is important. Staying up to date on your vaccinations during every stage of your life, and encouraging others to do the same, can help prevent the spread of diseases.

“If parents have concerns about their child receiving vaccines, they should talk with their child’s pediatrician,” said Dr. Kolanko. “Adults with concerns for their vaccinations should contact their primary care physician.”