As a parent, you’ve probably heard conflicting and confusing things about vaccines. You might have questions about how vaccines work, what ingredients they contain and whether they’re safe.
We all want what’s best for our kids, and learning the facts about vaccines is a first step toward keeping your children healthy:
- Why they’re important. Vaccines can prevent many dangerous (and even deadly) diseases, including whooping cough, influenza, chickenpox and measles.
- How they work. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by stimulating the body’s immune system to build natural defenses against a disease.
- How they don’t work. Vaccines help the body develop immunity by mimicking an infection, but they can’t actually cause the infection.
- Side effects. Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. Usually those side effects are mild, such as a fever or redness, swelling or soreness at the injection site. Serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, are rare.
- Ingredients. Vaccines contain small amounts of ingredients such as preservatives and stabilizers that ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. One often-repeated myth is that the preservative thimerosol, which is used in some flu vaccines, can cause autism. However, multiple scientific studies have shown that thimerosol does not cause autism or other harmful side effects.
- Safety. The United States has a longstanding vaccine safety system in place to ensure that vaccines are safe and effective.
- Don’t forget. Vaccines save lives!
Making Shots Less Stressful
Vaccines help us stay safe. Still, getting shots can be stressful for your child – and for you! Luckily, there are steps you can take to make the process go smoothly.
- Be distracting. Just before the shot, call your child’s name, sing a favorite song or act silly to draw their attention away from the needle.
- Carry a lovey. Bring a favorite toy, blanket or book from home to distract and comfort your child.
- Offer a sweet drink. A sip of juice can help distract a child during the shot and might even reduce their pain response.
- Be honest. Be upfront about the fact that they’ll be getting shots. Answer kids’ questions honestly and explain what’s happening in simple terms they can understand.
- Stay calm. If you’re nervous, they’ll be nervous. Smiles, hugs and a relaxed, reassuring attitude will help keep kids calm.