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Pediatric Infectious Disease Center
Vaccinations Q & A

Q: Are childhood vaccinations safe for my infant?

Yes. The FDA requires that every vaccine is carefully tested over several years, to prove both effectiveness and safety in several thousand children before they are released to the public. The information from these studies is thoroughly reviewed by at least 3 separate groups of dedicated medical and public health professionals. After release, each vaccine is continuously monitored by another dedicated federal health agency, watching for reports of any unexpected or rare side effects. 
Most Injectable vaccines have 1-10 purified molecules, and weigh less than a grain of sand before being diluted for use. Compare this with our natural exposure to about 10 different molecules with each virus that causes colds or flu, and about 2,500 molecules in the bacteria that cause ear infections or Strep throat, plus about a half pound of bacteria producing about a million different molecules that come and go daily in every person's skin, mouth and gut. 

There were over 12,000 cases of whooping cough in California in 2009-10, and 10 infants died. There were over 26,000 cases of measles in Europe last year, with about 26 children either dying or left with a brain damaged by the infection. About 50 children die from influenza in the United States every year. Roughly 100 children were hospitalized for each of those deaths. None of this would have happened if children and adults had been fully immunized, on time and up to date. Before present vaccinations were available, about 2,000 children suffered brain injury or death from meningitis every year in the United States. Not only is an immunized person protected from these diseases, but also the more people immunized the less these infections can take hold in the entire population - full immunization protects everyone, including the youngest infants in the first few months of life, who are not yet old enough to be fully immunized.

We are very concerned about a small number of well-meaning people, some of them famous - but non-medical - people, who erroneously believe - and vociferously try to tell the world - that vaccines can cause autism or other serious problems. Many of them carry the incredible belief that doctors and drug companies are somehow in a collusion to harm their children. The Missouri Academy of Pediatrics, representing all pediatricians in the state, has declared March 7, 2012 as Pediatric Advocacy Day, to help parents deal with the frightening words of these people. For more information, visit their website, moaap.org.

Based on very solid information, we believe - from the heart - that it is wisest to have your family fully immunized, on time.

Information provided by Michael Cooperstock, MD, MPH, a physician specializing in infectious diseases at University of Missouri Children's Hospital. He is Medical Director of Infection Control at University of Missouri Health Care. Dr. Cooperstock reports no conflicts of interest, and receives no financial or other support from pharmaceutical or other companies.

Watch an interview with Dr. Cooperstock about the importance of immunizations 

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