Are you weighing the pros and cons of immunizing your child? Pediatric Hospitalist Dr. Erika Shelburne talks the facts --- and the fiction – surrounding childhood immunizations.

Childhood Immunizations: Fact vs Fiction

My name is Erika Shelburne. I am a pediatric hospitalist at Sentara RMH Medical Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

As pediatricians, we recommend vaccinating children because it is the best way to protect them. The vaccinations offered for all children are for preventable diseases, and as doctors, and also as parents, we want to make sure that we’re able to protect our children at all costs.

I believe the reason we’re seeing a higher number of parents deciding not to vaccinate is two-fold. One, I think there is concern and questions regarding what the vaccinations really are for, and then the other is the belief that the things we’re vaccinating for, the diseases, are no longer here – which is false information. With measles alone in the United States, roughly from year to year, we may see fewer than a hundred cases documented. However, in 2014 alone, there were over 600 cases spread out over 27 states in the United States alone.

One of the myths that is discussed with regard to vaccines is the number of vaccines given at one time can overwhelm a child’s immune system. There is no current documentation or information in studies to show that this is something that is harmful to the child. Their immune systems are not noted to be overwhelmed and the vaccines are designed to be an appropriate amount for them at the certain age that is recommended.

I think one of the biggest concerns with not vaccinating your child is that you do put your child at risk for contracting a preventable disease that they may otherwise be protected against with vaccinations.

As a parent, if you’re having concerns with possible side effects that your child may experience after vaccinations, it’s very important to always talk to your pediatrician or health care provider. You want to make sure to know the most common side effects that may occur, and what potentially you need to be doing for those if you do see them in your child. Most side effects are very minor and will go away on their own in the first few days.