Vaccinations for children are often a source for questions, anxiety, and even controversy for a lot of parents that I see at our office.

As a pediatrician, I’ve had many parents ask me a lot of questions.  Whether they are for or against vaccinations, they really just want to know about the safety of vaccinations, why they should vaccinate their children, and what are some of the consequences.

So, when parents visit me, I go through several things with them.  Vaccines are really important.  We have now 14 to 16 communicable diseases that we vaccinated routinely against in childhood and adolescence.  They protect us in a couple of different ways.  One is, of course, by protecting us individually from getting those infections.  But, the other piece is that it helps protect the community through this process called herd immunity.  Not only you are protected by the vaccine, but your friend who may contract the disease from you if you were to get it is also getting a measure of protection.  By the virtue of you having gotten the vaccination.

So, a lot of parents worry about side effects.  Certainly, some vaccines can have some mild side effects.  We go over those in detail when you come in to visit us in the doctor’s office.  We just like to remind people that for the most part, most kids do not have side effects.  The ones that do, we go over those and we reassure parents that the diseases themselves have greater consequences than the side effects do.

At the end of the day, vaccines are protecting your children from diseases that we haven’t even seen for years.  I think that these invisible scourges are much worse than a lot of the concerns that people often bring up these days.  Certainly, these decisions are something we have to make in concert with each other.  Parents, pediatricians, and family doctors have to work together to protect our children.  But, on this issue the science has proven multiple times that vaccines are safe.  They protect us.  They’re important for us to move forward.

Dr. Kunal Mitra
Pediatrician with Burlington Pediatrics