Parents & Families

Most parents choose to vaccinate their children according to the recommended schedule. But some parents may still have questions about vaccines.

Vaccines protect against diseases

Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection. With all types of vaccines, your body will remember how to fight that virus in the future. It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to build up that protection.

Strengthening your baby’s immune system

Immunity is the body’s way of preventing disease. Your baby’s immune system is not fully developed at birth which can put your baby at a greater risk for infection. Vaccines reduce your child’s risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to help safely develop protection against disease.

Vaccine ingredients

Today’s vaccines use only the ingredients they need to be as safe and effective as possible. All ingredients of vaccines play necessary roles either in making the vaccine, triggering the body to develop immunity, or in ensuring that the final product is safe and effective. Some of these include:

  • Adjuvants help boost the body’s response to a vaccination. (Also found in antacids, antiperspirants, etc.)
  • Stabilizers help keep a vaccine effective after it is manufactured. (Also found in foods such as Jell-O® and resides in the body naturally)
  • Formaldehyde is used to prevent contamination by bacteria during the vaccine manufacturing process. It resides in body naturally (more in body than vaccines). (Also found in environment, preservatives, and household products.)
  • Thimerosal is also used during the manufacturing process but is no longer an ingredient in any vaccine except multi-dose vials of the flu vaccine. Single dose vials of the flu vaccine are available as an alternative. No reputable scientific studies have found an association between thimerosal in vaccines and autism.

Vaccines are safe

Before a new vaccine is ever given to people, extensive lab testing is done. Once testing in people begins, it can sometimes take years before clinical studies are complete and the vaccine is licensed.

Once a vaccine is licensed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CDC, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies routinely monitor its use and investigate any potential safety concerns.

Mild side effects are expected

Vaccines, like medicine, can have some side effects. But most people who get vaccinated have mild or no side effects. The most common side effects may include fever, tiredness, body aches, and redness, swelling, and tenderness at the site where the shot was given. Mild reactions usually go away on their own within a few days. Serious, long lasting side effects are extremely rare.

If you have questions or concerns about a vaccine, talk with your child’s doctor. Learn about the safety of each recommended vaccine.