I spend a fair amount of time during my day explaining the pros and cons of vaccines to parents. As a mother of three, vaccines not only affect my patients but also my own children. Therefore, I include in this blog why the pros outweigh the cons and why my children and patients fully vaccinate.
First let’s go over what is in a vaccine and why it is there.
The main ingredient in a vaccine is the antigen. This is what triggers the child’s body to make antibodies and memory cells to protect the child from the disease if they are exposed in the future.
Another component is an adjuvant. This decreases the amount of antigen needed to make the child’s body respond to the vaccine. The most common is aluminum salt. Breast milk and formula are other sources of aluminum salts.
The next component in some vaccines is a preservative. Most childhood vaccines no longer contain preservatives. It is usually present in multi-dose vaccines to prevent growth of bacteria and fungi. Most common are organic compounds found in our environment.
In addition stabilizers are proteins that protect vaccines from breaking down . They include albumin, sugars or amino acids.
Next, antibiotics keep vaccines from contamination. The antibiotics are non-penicillin containing such as streptomycin, polymyxin B, neomycin and gentamicin.
Lastly, residual amounts of yeast protein, cellular DNA and formaldehyde may be in some vaccines. If present, formaldehyde is in an amount much less than that naturally made in a child’s body or found in some foods such as an apple or pear.
Now that you understand what is in a vaccine and why it is there, it is important for you to know that the bacteria and viruses that vaccines protect children from still exist. Vaccines have protected our children from serious life-altering diseases such as encephalitis, meningitis and cancer. Side effects from vaccines are typically mild, the most common being redness and swelling at the site of injection. Serious side effects such as an allergic reaction to a vaccine component is rare.
Vaccines are given according to the age in which children are most susceptible to bacteria and viruses. Multiple vaccines can be given during a visit or if preferred by a parent the vaccines for each visit can be divided into two separate visits as long as the child is protected and doesn’t fall behind schedule. At the end of the day vaccines can provide us with the peace of mind needed to know we are doing what is most important to protect our children.