The news media and social media sites often feature the ongoing debate between those who are for and against immunizations for children. While both sides have made some very valid points and deserve consideration and respect for their opinions, parents of young children should carefully research their concerns, get trusted answers to their questions, and then make the decision they feel is best for their individual situation. If you are a parent currently wrestling with the very timely question of immunizing your child, here are some important points to consider:
Environmental exposure risks
Children that attend daycare, play groups, or public school, or go on outings to the library, grocery store, or local park are already risking exposure to serious diseases that can impact them for life. While there are no guarantees that your child will experience a reaction to an immunization, the risk is relatively small. On the other hand, choosing to immunize them against known childhood diseases is known to provide a significant layer of protection for your child.
Another point to consider as you struggle with the question of immunizing your child is the impact your decision may have when traveling. Parents who plan to travel with an unimmunized child will want to consider the potential for exposure to diseases that have already been eradicated in the United States. Before attempting this type of trip, parents should ask their health care professional to help them learn how to minimize the risks, such as making sure their child wears a face mask on planes and in public areas, and taking extra care to carefully sanitize their hands and any surfaces they come into contact with.
Potential legal issues
Proponents of immunization also believe that an unimmunized child may put other children at risk of certain diseases. This can happen when children who are too young to begin immunizations contract a serious disease, like measles, from an older child whose parents have deliberately chosen not to vaccinate. Situations like this can lead to questions of legal responsibility that may ultimately end up being tried in a civil court case. Depending on the outcome, parents may find themselves liable for large monetary judgments and the payment of punitive damages to the winner of the case.
Before making a final decision about immunizing your child, always take time to discuss all the risks involved with your trusted health care provider. This health care professional already knows your child's particular health history and needs, and they can offer you wise advice to help you make the decision that will be most beneficial for your child.