Are children too young for vaccinations? Does giving too many vaccines at once overload the immune system? Do Vaccines Cause Dangerous Adverse Reactions? Experts’ answers to the three most common doubts among parents about vaccinations and children.
“Some infectious diseases seem to have disappeared and parents may wonder why it is necessary to continue vaccinating their children. Some parents think that the disappearance in our country of infectious diseases such as polio or the significant reduction in diseases such as measles are due only to improved socio-economic conditions.
Actually this it would never have happened without the vaccinations. Higher living standards and sanitation alone, unfortunately, cannot guarantee protection from infectious diseases. If vaccination were to be stopped, the share of unprotected subjects would increase and even the occasional introduction of viruses and bacteria could lead to the onset of polio epidemics or other serious diseases that have now disappeared in Italy and in other parts of the world. For this we must continue to vaccinate our children “.
Thus the councilor for health of Veneto, Luca Coletto, addresses parents in the information brochure “Vaccinations doubts and answers”: a tool designed to answer the questions and concerns that very often put mothers and fathers in difficulty when approaching the fateful age of pediatric vaccinations.
“I’m essentially three questions that parents ask us most often“explains Giuseppina Napoletano, head of the Infectious Diseases Prophylaxis Office of the Prevention Department of the ULSS 20 in Verona.” They have to do with those doubts that most fuel anxieties and fears and sometimes cause a delay or even a refusal to submit one’s child to vaccinations. This is why we try to listen to their voice and create, through various tools, opportunities for discussion and dialogue with parents “.
In this article
1) Are children too young for vaccinations?
The vaccines they work by stimulating the immune system, the body’s natural defense system, so that it produces antibodies capable of preventing a disease from taking over. However, some believe that the baby’s immune system is still immature.
A question raised by those who decide not to vaccinate their children concerns their age: is the immune system of newborns able to withstand the administration of vaccines?
“The immune system of newborns is ready to respond to agents that can carry diseases,” says Napoletano. “If this were not the case, contact with the outside world after birth would be extremely dangerous and everyone would fall ill very easily, which fortunately does not happen.
Infants’ immune systems are able to respond adequately to vaccine administration.
While delaying the start of the vaccination cycle means extending the period in which the child is not protected against certain diseases, such as whooping cough and meningitis, which can be very serious in the first year of life. This is why it is important to protect it as soon as possible “.
In addition, Neapolitan points out, the calendar, vaccines and age of administration are designed so that this preventive intervention is simple and effective in ensuring the protection of children’s health.
And more and more often vaccines are offered in associated form for reduce the number of injections.
2) Does giving too many vaccines at once overload the immune system?
Many vaccine-skeptical parents fear that so many vaccinations together could overload a child’s immune system. “We try to explain to these parents that in reality the child is able to respond to various agents at the same time: after all, unless he lives under a glass dome, he already has to deal with viruses and bacteria in the life of all. days, “says Napoletano. That is, it comes into contact daily, through the food it eats or the air it breathes, with various germs, more or less pathogenic, present in the environment.
“On the one hand, therefore, the immune system is extremely powerful: that is, it is able to recognize and effectively fight millions of different substances (antigens). On the other hand, today we can count on vaccines that contain a minimum number of antigens, much lower than those carried by the disease.
For example, consider that the bacterium that causes whooping cough has more than 3000 substances that function as antigens, while the vaccine against whooping cough has only three, those that serve to stimulate an adequate response to the disease “.
3) Do vaccines cause dangerous adverse reactions?
Vaccines not only strengthen the development of the immune system, but they also stimulate the immune memory so that the body is able to react promptly when in the future it comes into contact with the virus or bacterium that can cause the disease.
In short, the vaccine is a kind of “training” that makes the body stronger to win the challenge against diseases. While vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, such as measles or chickenpox, expose the child to other infections and possible complications that can be very dangerous. Just think of encephalitis, a possible complication of measles, a severe inflammation of the brain that can be fatal or cause deafness or mental retardation.
“Yet diseases are less frightening than the possible side effects of vaccines” Neapolitan points out. But parents, worried about their children’s health, are not alone in keeping their guard up against vaccine reactions. “Healthcare professionals are also on alert to assess any contraindications first and monitor after any adverse reactions.”
Before vaccinations it is advisable to understand if the child is in good health and has no contraindications to vaccination, such as allergic reactions to some components of the vaccine. “In general, colds and mild upper respiratory tract infections are not a contraindication to the administration of vaccines. Instead, it is better to postpone the administration in case of acute illness with fever.”
After vaccination, however, the most common reactions concern swelling, redness or pain at the point where the injection was made: in these cases, you can give comfort by applying fresh cloths. Moreover, at times, fever can occur: if it is higher than 38 ° C, antipyretic drugs are administered.
The Green Channel has been active in Veneto since 1993: the regional reference center for prevaccinal counseling and surveillance of adverse vaccination events. “The adverse reaction data collected from this activity allow us to proceed with confidence in the administration of vaccines, because the documented side effects are negligible compared to the complications of the diseases from which the vaccines protect.
In these years of activity, out of over 29 million doses of vaccine administered there have been 7,929 reports of suspected adverse reactions, mostly mild, which were then analyzed to verify the actual relationship with the vaccine and the extent of the discomfort caused. Well, all the reported adverse reactions have resolved: fever, vomiting, drowsiness and even the most serious reactions (such as febrile convulsions) did not have any consequences on the health of the children. Distant disturbances persisted only in very rare cases (4 children and 11 adults), with a rate of 0.45 per million (less than 1 case for every 2 million doses of vaccine administered) “.
Alleged link between vaccines and autism
And then there is the alleged link between vaccines and autism, unfounded but insidious. A legend widely disproved by scientific research, but which continues to reignite the debate on the danger of vaccines.
“It is common in the clinical experience of those dealing with autism – explain on the Epicentro portal the …