Common Myths about Immunization

"I read that the DTP vaccine can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)."

There is no scientific evidence that links the DTaP or DTP shot and SIDS. This myth continues because the first dose is given at 2 months of age, when the risk of SIDS is greatest. However, these events are not connected.

"I saw on the news that there are "hot lots" of vaccines that are more dangerous than other lots."

The federal government set up the national Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) to receive reports of vaccine reactions. People may think that if a large number of VAERS reports result from a particular batch of vaccine (a "hot lot"), then it must be dangerous. To date, no vaccine lot has ever been found to be unsafe based on VAERS reports.

Keep in mind, all vaccines are licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Vaccine manufacturing facilities are licensed and regularly inspected. In addition, every vaccine lot is safety-tested by the manufacturer. The fact that a vaccine is still being used means that the FDA considers it safe.

"I've heard that it is unsafe to immunize a child who has a cold and fever. Is this true?"

A child with a minor illness can safely be immunized. Minor illnesses include the following:

"I've heard that some children have serious side effects from vaccines so they must not be very safe."

Reactions to vaccines may occur, but they are usually mild. Severe reactions to vaccines are very rare. Symptoms of a more serious reaction include the following:

If any of these symptoms occur, call your pediatrician right away.

If your child experiences any side effects after a vaccination, talk to your pediatrician. Together you can decide whether your child should receive another dose of the same vaccine.

Children with other health problems may need to avoid certain vaccines or get them later than usual. For example, children with certain types of cancers or problems with their immune systems should not get live virus vaccines like the MMR, varicella, or oral polio vaccines. For children with seizures, the pertussis part of the DTaP vaccine may need to be delayed. Ask your pediatrician when the vaccine can be given.

"I've heard that giving a child more than one immunization at a time can be dangerous."

Studies and years of experience show that vaccines used for routine childhood immunizations can be safely given together. Side effects when multiple vaccines are given together are no greater than when each vaccine is given on separate occasions. Talk to your pediatrician if you are concerned about the number of vaccines your child is scheduled to receive.

"Immunizations hurt."

They may hurt a little, and your baby may cry for a few minutes. There may be some temporary swelling where your child was injected. However, protecting your child's long-term health is worth a few tears.

If your child is old enough to understand, explain that immunizations help prevent some very serious illnesses. Comfort and play with your child after the immunization. Acetaminophen can be used to help relieve some of the more common side effects, such as irritability and fever, but always check the dosage with your pediatrician.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics