Vaccines are Safe (and Save Lives)
This blog post is adapted from our Parents’ Guide to Children’s Vaccines.
As a parent, you prioritize your children’s safety. It’s your job to keep them protected from harm, and to make decisions on their behalf until they’re old enough, or able to.
If you’ve been hearing a lot of conflicting messages on social media — or in your social circles — about vaccines, you may wonder whether vaccines are safe.
Rest assured: Vaccines are some of the most tested, monitored and regulated medicines that we have access to.
Thousands of hours of research by scientists, doctors and experts go into each vaccine, and even after a vaccines is approved and released to the public, it’s closely monitored.
It may go without saying (although it’s still worth saying!): A vaccine must have fewer potential side effects than benefits in order to be worthwhile to an individual, and to the population.
Ensuring a vaccine’s safety
Vaccines are formulated in specific ways to make sure they are safe and effective. For example, vaccines may contain a dose of the bacteria or virus that’s present in the disease itself — but they’re formulated to carry it in much smaller doses.
Live viruses can also be cultured to be milder strains, so that a case of measles would feel more like a common cold.
Other vaccines keep out antigens from the disease that are known to cause bad reactions.
By reducing the intensity of a reaction that a disease would cause, a vaccine is far less likely to trigger a bad reaction than the disease itself.
Vaccines are not only safe, but also allow your immune system to build its “immune dictionary” so it can accurately identify what your body should absorb and use, and what it should fight against to keep you well.
If you have questions about the safety of particular vaccines and any potential side effects, don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician. They can answer questions about short- and long-term benefits and risks, the ingredients in vaccines, how vaccines are tested, and more.