No one enjoys getting sick – even if it’s a minor illness. More serious afflictions not only make you feel awful, they present major threats to your health. But the positive news is that vaccines are an effective in preventing a multitude of illnesses.

As children are beginning to fill the school hallways once again and flu season is fast approaching, now is a good time to learn the facts about vaccinations.

Q. Are vaccinations important?

A. Vaccinations are very important, especially for young children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infants receive some passive immunity from their mothers after birth. However, these immunities wear off during the child’s first year and are ineffective against diseases like pertussis (whooping cough).

Without vaccinations, young children’s bodies often can’t fight diseases. This can lead to serious complications and even death.

Q. Should I space my child’s vaccinations out?

A. There is no evidence that suggests it’s more effective for children to receive vaccinations in intervals. In fact, children are able to respond to multiple vaccine exposures at the same time, without adverse effects. Studies show that vaccinations given in a group are just as effective as individual shots.

Q. Is there a link between vaccinations and autism?

A. According to the CDC, “Many studies have looked at whether there is a relationship between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). To date, the studies continue to show that vaccines are not associated with ASDs.”

The CDC is also working with the National Vaccine Committee to address concerns from parents who still have questions about vaccinations.

Q. Are vaccinations safe?

A. Yes. Vaccines undergo elaborate testing to ensure that they are safe and benefit those receiving them.

There are minor risks with vaccines, including fever, skin irritation and soreness. These side effects are much less severe than the illnesses they aid in preventing.

Q. What vaccinations are recommended?

A. Leading health care providers and the CDC recommend these vaccinations:

• Diptheria/Tetanus/Pertussis

• Haemophilus Influenza B

• Hepatitis A

• Hepatitis B

• Human Papilloma Virus

• Influenza

• Meningiococcal

• MMR

• Pneumococcal

• Polio

• Rotavirus

• Varicella (Chickenpox)

Many of these vaccinations can be administered in groups, and there are also “catch up” schedules available. There are certain individuals who should not receive vaccines. It’s important to discuss this with your health care provider. Also, you can review guidelines on the CDC’s website.

It’s of the utmost importance to protect yourself and your loved ones in a world full of uncertainty. Vaccinations are at the front line of illness defense and are safe, cost-effective and a smart decision for preventive health.

If you have any questions about vaccinations, consult your health care provider.

Daniel Stahl, M.D., is a Mayo Clinic Health System in Waseca family medicine provider.

For more information, please go to www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org.

Daniel Stahl, M.D., is a Mayo Clinic Health System in Waseca family physician.

Daniel Stahl, M.D., is a Mayo Clinic Health System in Waseca family physician.

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