To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? For some, it’s a simple answer and for others, not so much.

Are vaccines safe?

Kid Shot Vaccine Immunization Arm

Vaccinations, like any other medications, may have side effects.  Fortunately, the most common side effects are non-life threatening and short-lived.

Almost all vaccines can cause pain, redness or tenderness at the site of injection. These types of reactions typically resolve in the first 24-48 hours.   Some vaccines cause more severe side effects, but those side effects are rare and are usually occurring in children with other underlying illnesses.  Each vaccination is a little different, and we encourage you to read about the vaccinations. With every visit, parents should receive a vaccination information sheet that has basic information about the immunizations and most common side effects as well as other uncommon, but serious side effects.

The CDC tracks any serious complications of vaccination through The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.  If there are substantial cases of a serious side effect or complication, then the CDC can suspend the use of said vaccination until it can studied further and deemed safe enough to use for patients.  Another system to assess complications is the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD).

Ultimately, are there many things that could cause harm unintentionally?  Yes, there are.  But we study vaccinations very closely to ensure that the risk of serious complications is relatively low.

When deciding whether to immunize, it is very important to weigh the relative risks versus the benefits of vaccinations and the prevention of potentially life-threatening illnesses. You should always discuss concerns with your provider before making big decisions about the health of your child. 

Your child’s pediatrician will not only take the recommendations from large healthcare organizations who help create guidelines, but he or she will also look at the health history of your child and help you to determine the risks involved of not getting vaccinated versus the risks of side effects of the vaccination. They can also help you to determine the appropriate timing for vaccinations based on the recommended schedule and the health of your child.

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?  For some, it’s a simple answer and for others, not so much.  Either way, we encourage to talk with your pediatrician to help you make this decision.


About the Author

Dr. LaTonya Russell is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. She is also a member of the american Academy of Pediatrics and The Association for Clinicians of the Underserved. Recognized for her exemplary dedication to patient care, Dr. Russell is a skilled pediatrician fluent in Spanish and English. She works to educate children on health and wellness and has a special interest in treating ADHD, depression and adolescent health concerns. From well child checks to sick visits or chronic medical issues, Dr. Russell follows her patients as they grow and develop to become a true health care partner.