FAQs: General Vaccine Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): General Vaccine Information

afterward, and while no medication is entirely risk-free, severe side effects are uncommon. Mild side effects such as fever and soreness at the vaccination site are possible. It is essential to note that the advantages of vaccination far outweigh the risks of not vaccinating. Thousands of babies and children suffered from life-threatening illnesses each year before vaccine development; nowadays, millions of children are safeguarded against these diseases.

No. Vaccination is a much safer way of acquiring immunity to a disease. While catching a disease will generally give you immunity in the future, you run the risk of becoming severely ill or even dying. Vaccinations, on the other hand, provide immunity without the person’s having to experience the serious effects of the diseases.

Experts who monitor the use of vaccines agree that today’s vaccine supply in the United States (US) is the safest and most effective in history. All vaccines undergo years of testing before they are approved for use. Once they become available, vaccines are continually checked for safety and effectiveness. Any problems that arise can be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which reviews the problems and further investigates those determined to be vaccine-related. Appropriate actions may be taken, up to and including withdrawing the vaccine from use.

Like any medication, no vaccine is 100% safe; however, most people experience no side effects after vaccination. If side effects do occur, they are usually mild. Typical mild side effects are soreness, swelling, or redness at the spot where the injection was given, or mild fever. Severe side effects, including severe allergic reactions, are extremely rare.

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The most important thing to remember is that the benefits of immunization are much greater than any possible risks. Vaccines protect us from many serious diseases. Thanks to vaccines, most people in the US have never seen a case of polio, measles, or diphtheria. But before vaccines were available, these and other diseases caused widespread illness, complications, and death.

Before a vaccine was available for measles, half a million cases occurred in an average year; polio crippled thousands of children and adults; and rubella, or German measles, caused hundreds of babies to be born with deafness, mental retardation, or other defects.

Vaccines have been so successful, in fact, that people hear more today about possible side effects from vaccines than the very real dangers of the diseases themselves.

Some vaccine-preventable diseases, like pertussis (whooping cough) and chickenpox, remain common in the United States. On the other hand, other diseases vaccines prevent are no longer common in this country because of vaccines. If we stopped vaccinating, the few cases we have in the United States could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases. Even though many serious vaccine-preventable diseases are uncommon in the United States, some are common in other parts of the world. Even if your family does not travel internationally, you could come into contact with international travelers anywhere in your community. Children who don’t receive all vaccinations and are exposed to a disease can become seriously sick and spread it through a community. *Resource: CDC