Vaccines and Your Child

Vaccines and Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Vaccines and Your Child
    Book Description:

    Paul A. Offit and Charlotte A. Moser answer questions about the science and safety of modern vaccines. In straightforward prose, they explain how vaccines work, how they are made, and how they are tested. Most important, they separate the real risks of vaccines from feared but unfounded risks.

    Offit and Moser address parental fears that children may receive too many vaccines too early, that the HPV vaccine may cause chronic fatigue or other dangerous side effects, that additives and preservatives in vaccines cause autism, and that vaccines might do more harm than good. There couldn't be a better moment or more pressing need for this book, which offers honesty-instead of hype-in the quest to protect children's health.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52671-5
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)

      (pp. 3-33)

      Vaccines provide the immunity that comes from natural infection without the consequences of natural infection.

      One way to understand vaccines is to examine the origins of the first one: the smallpox vaccine. In the late 1700s, Edward Jenner, a physician working in southern England, noticed that milkmaids didn’t catch smallpox, a disease that swept across the English countryside every two to three years. Jenner believed there was a connection between the blisters milkmaids often suffered on their hands—blisters similar to those on cows’ udders—and protection against disease. He reasoned that the blisters must contain something that was protective....

    • SAFETY
      (pp. 34-70)

      A vaccine is safe if its benefits clearly and definitively outweigh its risks. But any medical product that has a positive effect—whether it is a drug or a vaccine—can have a negative effect. So no vaccine is absolutely safe. All vaccines that are given as shots can cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection. And some vaccines cause more serious problems. For example, the measles vaccine can cause a decrease in platelets, which help the blood to clot. This happens in about 1 of 25,000 children who get the vaccine. This particular reaction, called thrombocytopenia,...

      (pp. 71-88)

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every year several substances in vaccines cause about 200 people to suffer severe allergic reactions.

      About 1 of 200 people in the United States is allergic to eggs. Most are only mildly allergic, but some are severely affected. Because influenza vaccine is made in eggs, egg proteins are present in the final product, usually measured in micrograms (millionths of a gram) per dose. Although these quantities are quite small, they’re sufficient to cause allergic reactions, including hives, difficulty breathing, and low blood pressure. This is the reason parents are encouraged...

      (pp. 89-102)

      Many children are afraid to go to the doctor’s office when they know it’s time to get shots. However, some techniques can help them through this occasionally frightening experience.

      Gina French and her co-workers at the Children’s Hospital of Columbus, Ohio, published a study evaluating the capacity of breathing techniques to ease the pain of vaccines; they called it “Blowing Away Shot Pain.” French studied 150 children between four and seven years of age who were about to be immunized. Half the children were treated as usual. The other half was told: “I know a trick that might make it...


      (pp. 105-164)

      Newborns and sexually transmitted diseases aren’t typically discussed in the same conversation, so many parents wonder why their baby needs a hepatitis B vaccine before leaving the nursery.

      Hepatitis B is a virus that is transmitted most commonly from one person to another by blood. Because as many as a billion infectious viruses can be found in a milliliter (a fifth of a teaspoon) of blood, the amount of blood necessary to transmit the infection is minuscule. Indeed, invisible amounts of blood from an infected person can be found in unusual places, such as toothbrushes, and can be infectious for...

      (pp. 165-194)

      During the past decade, parents have wondered about the safety of the MMR vaccine—the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Unfortunately, because of these concerns, vaccine use has declined and, as a consequence, the number of children infected with measles and mumps has increased.

      During the first seven months of 2008, seven outbreaks of measles occurred in the United States. These outbreaks affected about 140 people in 15 different states. Almost all of those infected weren’t immunized.

      A mumps outbreak that began in 2009 and continued into 2010 affected more than 1,500 people. It started at a...

      (pp. 195-212)

      Meningococcus is a bacterium that causes two important infections: meningitis and sepsis (bloodstream infection). Perhaps no disease is more devastating than meningococcal sepsis. Parents who have lost children to this disease tell similar stories: their child was fine one minute and dead only a few hours later.

      “Ryan had just graduated high school, reached pro golf status and was preparing for college. Meningococcal meningitis took his life in less than fourteen hours after the first onset of complaints and signs of an earache and a fever.”

      FRANKIE MILLEY, founder of the parent advocacy group Meningitis Angels,

      Meningococcus is a...

      (pp. 213-220)

      First dose of the hepatitis B vaccine

      If your child visits the doctor at one month of age, the second dose of hepatitis B vaccine may be given. However, most doctors give the second dose at the two-month visit.

      Also given at the two-month visit are first doses of the rotavirus; diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP); Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib); pneumococcal; and polio vaccines.

      To reduce the number of shots, some vaccines have been combined:

      Pediarix contains hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio vaccines. Pediarix causes redness or swelling in 7 of 100 more infants than individual doses...

    (pp. 221-226)
    (pp. 227-228)
    (pp. 229-230)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 231-247)