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Why should I vaccinate my child - and answers to other commonly asked questions about shots

Young girl receiving shot.

Question: I’ve read so many arguments on social media about vaccinations. I’m confused. Why should I vaccinate my child?

Answer: This question is quite common. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccinations are important for many reasons:

     • People aren’t getting sick as often because of vaccinations.
     • Vaccinations prevent diseases from spreading to others as easily, especially when the majority of people are           vaccinated.
     • The risk for epidemics (disease outbreaks) decreases when more people are vaccinated.
     • Diseases that were controlled with vaccines start coming back when vaccination rates fall.
     • We vaccinate to protect the future generations. Our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are protected when we vaccinate and don’t allow diseases to spread.

Q: Haven’t most childhood illnesses been wiped out at this point?

A: Diseases that were once eliminated or very close to elimination, like pertussis (whooping cough), polio and measles, are all on the rise as vaccination rates fall. It is important to keep vaccines up to date to eliminate these diseases.

Q: What are the possible side effects of vaccinations? What about the supposed connection between autism and vaccines? Has that been debunked?

A: There are side effects for vaccines, but they are usually mild. The most common side effects from vaccines are muscle tenderness and redness at the injection site. You can learn more about vaccine side effects from Vaccine Information Statements (VIS). Your doctor should allow you to review this statement for each vaccine prior to getting vaccinated, but you can also read them at Immunize.org. 

1 in 44 children have autism, but they didn’t get it from vaccines. You can learn about the causes, signs, and symptoms of autism from the CDC.

Q: Can I spread out or delay my child’s vaccinations?

A: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) doesn’t recommend delaying or using alternative vaccine schedules. Keep you and your loved ones up to date with the vaccines using ACIP’s vaccination schedule.

Q: What if my religion doesn’t allow vaccinations? Can my child still attend public school?

A: If vaccines are against or in conflict with the religious tenets and practices a child’s parent or legal guardian, the parent should fill out a Form DH 681 (Religious Exemption from Immunization).

Q: What is ‘herd immunity’?

A: Herd immunity happens when most people in a community are vaccinated. The few people of the community who don’t or can’t get vaccinated for health reasons are also protected from getting sick.

Q: What about voluntary immunizations, like the flu vaccine and the one for HPV? Are those necessary as well?

A: The State of Florida doesn’t require children to get flu, HPV, meningococcal, or HepA vaccines. However, these vaccines are strongly encouraged, when age appropriate, by the CDC and WHO (World Health Organization).

Q: Where can I get my child vaccinated if I don’t have a regular doctor?

A: Palm Beach County has resources to help children get vaccinated, even if they don’t have a regular pediatrician. The Immunization Outreach Van travels around the county providing vaccinations to children who need it. Click here to view the Immunization Outreach Van Schedule or call 561-840–4568 to locate a van and get your child vaccinated.


Bostella Walker, Director of Nursing, Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County

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