Vaccinations have been a hot topic in a number of circles recently, especially given recent outbreaks of otherwise eradicated diseases in New York and Los Angeles. While it's easy to become complacent with the state of modern medicine, the importance of vaccinating your children can't be overstated. However, it is in your best interest to get the facts ahead of time so that you can better understand just what your decision means.

Immunization and Public Health

Modern medical advances have allowed doctors and scientists to eradicate several lethal diseases in most first world countries. However, that doesn't mean they're gone for good or that the potential threat they represent isn't real. Measles, chicken pox and the flu virus are all still common and have the potential to infect and cause serious health complications in those who contract them.

Public health is served best when as many people in a given population have been vaccinated against most common viruses, especially those which are highly contagious or extremely lethal. A good example of this is measles, which is widely considered to be one of the most highly infectious diseases in the world. Even though it's normally lethal only to young children and the elderly, anyone who catches it has the potential to spread it to others and harm those most susceptible to the worst impact of the virus.

Understanding the Risk and Rewards

Vaccination provides protections on two important levels, the first of which being immediate protection to the individual being vaccinated. The second level of protection applies to those with whom a vaccinated individual comes in contact. Since they have an existing immunity to the virus in question, they're no longer a potential carrier of that virus, reducing the number of potential vectors for transfer of the infection.

Very rarely, patients may have an adverse reaction to the inert viral agent or the solution in which it is suspended. If treated immediately, these individuals will have minimal health complications as a result. The frequency of adverse vaccine reactions is extremely low, with just over 2,000 severe reactions reported in 2014, while influenza, measles, and a host of other commonly vaccinated viruses kill more than a million people annually. That doesn't mean vaccines don't have a measure of risk, only that they present sufficient benefit to make it worth the minimal risk associated with them.

As a parent, you're the final decision-maker when it comes to safe-guarding your child's health, but vaccinating your child doesn't only affect your child. Remember, the more people who are vaccinated against a disease the less chance that disease has of becoming a major health risk. Speak to a doctor or other qualified medical professional at a place like Rocky Mountain Family Physicians to find out which vaccinations are in their best interest and in the best interest of those around them.

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