During the next 15 minutes, you'll learn:
- Why vaccines are important
- How community immunity works
- The symptoms of diseases that are preventable with vaccinations
- Your responsibilities if you choose not to vaccinate your child
This is an educational tool for anyone who chooses not to give their child vaccinations
During the next 15 minutes, you'll learn:
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Vaccines are substances that teach your immune system what an invasive microbe looks like. This allows your body to protect itself from specific diseases. It is a natural process that uses your body’s own natural defense system to keep you safe from serious illnesses.
This process is more natural than medicines, treatments, or vitamin supplements. It makes use of your body’s strengths and protects you from diseases that could do serious harm.
Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect your health. Studies have proven that vaccines do not cause autism.
Some people mistakenly believe vaccines are unnecessary because diseases like polio are now uncommon. They forget that certain diseases are unfamiliar to our children because vaccines have made these diseases rare, but not completely gone. The World Health Organization estimates that more than one million children die each year from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines. These diseases remain only a plane ride away from your child.
Vaccines have saved millions of lives, and their value to our health cannot be overstated.
Vaccine schedules are recommended only after reviewing many research studies. The schedules are created to provide the quickest and most effective way to protect your child from communicable disease. Delayed or altered schedules for vaccine administration results in decreased protection from diseases like measles and pertussis.
Side effects of vaccines do not happen to everyone, and they are usually minor.
Mild problems may include:
When the vast majority of a population is vaccinated, it protects the people who cannot be vaccinated. This includes:
Because of the low vaccination rate, protective levels of community immunity in Utah are declining and thus risks are increasing. This means children who are not vaccinated have a high risk of contracting and spreading disease during an outbreak.
Measles is a disease that causes fever and red spots on the skin.
This disease spreads to others through coughing and sneezing. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before to four days after the rash first appears. It is so contagious that if someone has it, 90% of the unvaccinated people close to that person will also become infected.
A person with measles may experience mild symptoms such as:
Those infected with measles may also experience serious symptoms such as:
Measles can cause serious health problems, especially in children less than five years old.
At least one out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best medical care.
Mumps is a contagious disease defined by fever and swelling around the lower jaw.
Symptoms of mumps include:
Adults with mumps will occasionally experience serious complications, such as meningitis, deafness, and infertility.
People with mumps are likely contagious before the salivary glands begin to swell and up to 5 days after the swelling begins. Mumps is spread through:
Rubella is a contagious viral disease that spreads through coughing and sneezing. The symptoms are often mild, including:
Though the symptoms are not severe, rubella carries an additional risk for pregnant women.
There is at least a 20% chance of a child having birth defects if a woman is infected in early pregnancy. These birth defects include:
Poliovirus is a serious disease that affects the nerves in the spine and can make a person permanently paralyzed (unable to move certain muscles).
Polio spreads through person-to-person contact. It can spread through the cough, sneeze, or feces of an infected person. People who don’t have symptoms can still pass this virus to others and make them sick.
A person with polio may experience flu-like symptoms such as:
A person with polio may also experience more serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord. These symptoms include:
Hepatitis A and B are closely related diseases that are caused by different viruses. They both cause swelling of the liver.
Hepatitis A is spread though objects, food, drink, or feces of an infected person.
Hepatitis B is spread though bodily fluids, so an infected mother can give her baby the virus during birth. Hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer.
Symptoms of diphtheria may include:
Coughing, sneezing, or touching surfaces with unwashed hands can spread diphtheria from person to person.
In the advanced stages, diphtheria can damage the heart, kidneys, and nervous system. Up to 3% of people who contract diphtheria will die of it, even with medical treatment.
Diphtheria is rare in the United States only because of widespread vaccination against the disease.
Pertussis is a respiratory tract infection that develops in stages. The early stage usually starts with cold-like symptoms, including:
In many people, pertussis is recognized by a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like a "whoop."
Initially, pertussis looks like the common cold, so it is often untreated until it is in the late stage. During this stage, coughing becomes severe and can last for more than 10 weeks, which is why it is also known as the “100 day cough.”
Listen to learn why it’s called "whooping cough."Sound taken from whoopingcough.net with the permission of Dr. Doug Jenkinson.
Pertussis is highly contagious. Those who are infected are the most contagious until about 2 weeks after the cough begins.
Pertussis primarily affects children too young to have completed all of their vaccinations and adults whose immunity has faded. It is generally less severe in teenagers and adults, but they can spread it to infants who will usually need to be hospitalized.
Tetanus is a serious disease that causes spasms of the muscles, especially the jaw.
10-20% of tetanus cases are fatal.
Tetanus bacteria are part of our environment and can be found in dust and soil. The bacteria can get into the body through broken skin. For example, a person may contract tetanus from wounds that have been contaminated with dirt, feces, or saliva. People also get tetanus from burns or objects puncturing the skin.
Thanks to the tetanus vaccine, cases of tetanus are rare in the United States. However, the disease is still dangerous to those who aren’t up to date on their vaccinations.
Chickenpox is a common childhood disease and is rarely dangerous, but it can cause serious symptoms in infants and adults.
These symptoms include:
Chickenpox is very contagious, especially to those who have never had the disease or vaccine. The virus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Touching an infected person’s blisters can also spread chickenpox.
Immunocompromised children are at high risk for hospitalization from chickenpox. Before the vaccine, this disease would hospitalize about 11,000 people and kill around 100 people each year in the U.S. alone.
Children usually miss 5–6 days of school or childcare because of chickenpox.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord usually caused by a virus or bacteria. Viral meningitis is serious, but not usually as severe as bacterial meningitis, which spreads quickly and can be life threatening. Symptoms include:
Most outbreaks of meningitis occur in the college-aged population. Many infected with meningitis will suffer long-term consequences, including:
If you choose not to have your child vaccinated, you will have to take extra precautions in the event of a disease outbreak in your area.
During an outbreak, your child:
You must take these precautions in order to protect your child and to keep an outbreak from growing. This is especially important when a population does not benefit from community immunity.
Want a reminder about how community immunity works?
The amount of time a child will have to stay home depends on the disease.
If you choose not to have your children vaccinated, you will need to make a plan so you will be prepared for an outbreak.
The plan should include:
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