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Vaccines and their side effects

Vaccines are recommended to prevent disease and keep us healthy. Vaccines are responsible for something called 'herd immunity.' If the majority of people in a community have been vaccinated against a certain disease, an unvaccinated person is less likely to get sick himself. During the past 60 years, vaccines have helped eradicate smallpox and almost wiped out all cases of polio. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports a 99 percent reduction in the incidence of bacterial meningitis since the introduction of the vaccination against the disease.

Despite the good they can do, some people are hesitant to follow recommended vaccination schedules for fear of side effects. Some side effects are legitimate, but many studies continue to indicate there is no relationship between vaccines and autism.

Vaccines undergo rigorous safety testing prior to being approved for use and, once approved, are continually monitored for safety.

But as with any medication, there are possible side effects associated with vaccinations, although most are not serious. The following are some side effects that people may experience after being vaccinated.

• injection site reactions, such as pain, swelling, a small lump, and redness • mild fever • shivering • fatigue • headache • muscle and joint pain

More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, are rare. Parents should monitor their children after vaccinations for any behavior or health changes. Some doctors recommend taking a fever reducer, such as ibuprofen, if a fever develops and makes a child or adult feel uncomfortable after he or she is vaccinated.

Many vaccination side effects are short- lived and not a cause for concern. But if side effects do not subside shortly after you have been vaccinated, bring this to the a(ention of your physician.

It can be tempting to forgo vaccines out of fear of any of the aforementioned side effects.

But the benets of vaccines far outweigh the risks.

For more information on vaccine schedules, visit the CDC ( or the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap. org). Doctors also can provide a wealth of information about immunizations.

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