What Are the Risks?
There are three major risks parents should be aware of before their child is vaccinated:
- Immunity does not develop in response to the vaccine. In this case, the child is not protected—despite the vaccination.
- The weakened vaccine infection cannot be controlled. This is only a problem if living virus immunizations are given (polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella). People who have faulty immune systems may fail to control the infection with the weakened vaccine virus. Parents may not know if significant immune problems are present before vaccination. Fortunately, serious problems with babies' immune systems are very rare.
- An adverse reaction develops in response to the vaccine. The body may adversely react to the vaccine or one of its components. This occurs when vaccine recipients are allergic to trace amounts of antibiotics, other materials that are left over in the vaccine from its preparation, or for other reasons that are not currently known.
Although these risks sound frightening, they are rare. Again, the risk of damage from the disease itself far outweighs the risk of injury from the vaccine protecting against the disease.