A Parents’ Guide to Children’s Vaccinations

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Vaccinations and being green

Some parents may wonder if using vaccines is a green thing to do. After all, they do contain some artificially-produced chemicals. But this is more of a philosophical question than a practical one. Technically, there is no general consensus on what it means in this day and age to “be green.” As stated earlier, parents want what is best for their children. And they make the determination of what is best by weighing the risks and benefits of their decisions. This is often what motivates “green” choices–i.e. healthy eating, protecting the environment, sustainable living, etc.). Immunization may or may not be considered a green alternative; but the benefits currently do, in most cases, outweigh the risks, which may make the debate about whether or not vaccines are green less of a priority.

Stay informed about vaccines: tips for parents  

  • Take a look at the Vaccine Information Statements for each vaccine.  They provide information on benefits, risks, who should avoid each vaccine and a lot of other good information.
  • Do some research through the CDC and other watchdog organizations about the latest vaccines, since the formulations and vaccines routinely change.
  • Check the conditions under which a patient shouldn’t take a given vaccine and tell your doctor if you have any concerns.
  • Tell the doctor about any current illness or medical conditions. Some vaccines are postponed if patients have moderate or severe illness.
  • Be wary of info available through social media and unestablished websites. A lot of it is incorrect.
  • After giving a vaccine to your child, look for anything unusual such as fever or unusual behavior. Signs of a serious allergic reaction may include difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives, weakness, dizziness, paleness, or accelerated heart beat. If such signs are present contact a doctor immediately.
  • Use Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to learn of or report side effects of using vaccines 
  • When informed about a side effect ask yourself: Does the claimed side effect rely on scientific data? And someone saying so is not enough: Verify the scientific evidence yourself. Not only whether it truly exists but also whether it is based upon a reputable source (there are even fake “scientific journals,” so beware), whether it has been independently reproduced and validated, and whether there is agreement among experts.
  • If you want to do your own research on the topic, try checking what universities have to say about the topic. They often have excellent non-technical information available for the public. For example, in a Google search you can type ‘children vaccines side effects site:.edu’ (no quotes). Then only university websites will show in your search results.

So, do the benefits of vaccinating your child outweigh the risks?  For the majority of vaccines available the answer is a resounding yes. But this is not necessarily true for all vaccines available and all situations. Parents should evaluate the benefits and risks of each vaccine separately, according to the most up-to-date data and each individual case. Additionally, it is wise to stay on top of the latest news from the health watchdog organizations.

vaccine risks

Photo courtesy of Ericsson Images via Flickr

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Author:Robert Rivera PhD

Proud dad and statistics university professor. His specialty is the use and construction of statistical methods. Also strategy analyst for Living Green with Baby

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