What Do I Need To Know About Vaccine Safety & Immunity?
Q: Which vaccines are safe to give?
A: Like every prescription medication, every vaccine carries a risk of injury or death that can be greater for some than others. Every vaccine recommended for use by government and doctors has been associated with hospitalizations, injuries and deaths. Whether or not you or your child suffers a vaccine reaction will depend upon the vaccine(s) given and the various genetic, biological and other high-risk co-factors that may be known and unknown at the time of vaccination.
There is no guarantee that a particular vaccine will be safe to give to a particular individual and will not result in permanent injury or death. For some, there may be little or no risk when getting vaccinated and, for others, the risks are 100 percent.
If you, as a parent, are concerned that continuing vaccination would harm your child and a doctor is insisting more vaccines be given without your voluntary consent, you should contact another trusted health care professional for a second opinion. If your child has experienced health deterioration after previous vaccinations, it is important listen to your intuition and be totally comfortable with a vaccination decision for your child before proceeding with more vaccination. As a public service, NVIC provides our Ask Eight, If You Vaccinate webpage to assist consumers in becoming informed.
Q: Which vaccines does NVIC recommend?
A: NVIC does not give medical advice or make specific recommendations about which vaccines should be given, when or to whom. A vaccination decision should be made after becoming fully informed about the benefits and risks of infectious diseases and vaccines and after considering an individual's personal and family medical history, contraindications to vaccination, and consultation with one or more trusted health care professionals.
NVIC's website contains information to help make informed vaccine choices. There are many other websites, books, news reports, films and other sources of information as well that also appear on our resources webpage.
Q: I've heard that vaccines do not produce "immunity." Is this true?
A: Vaccines provide temporary immunity and sometimes vaccines fail to provide even temporary immunity for some individuals. Because vaccination does not exactly mimic the immunity produced after natural infection, which is often longer-lasting or permanent, booster doses of vaccines are often required to extend vaccine-induced immunity.
Q: Is it true that a baby's immune system at birth can handle 10,000 vaccines at a time?
A: This statement has not been backed up by scientific studies. To our knowledge, there is no scientific evidence that a baby's immune system is fully developed at birth and/or can safely handle any particular number of vaccines, let alone 10,000 vaccines at once.
Large, prospective long term studies evaluating the health of infants and children given 69 doses of 16 vaccines from birth to age 18, which is the current federal recommendation, have never been conducted. There have never been studies to evaluate whether babies with a personal or family history or allergy and autoimmune disorders may be at higher risk than others for complications from use of multiple vaccines throughout childhood. There have never been large studies comparing the health of highly vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to compare for all health outcomes and changes in immune and brain function over time.
When statements are made that contradict common sense, such as the idea that a small infant can handle 10,000 vaccines at once, it is important to check out the potential ideological biases and conflicts of interest associated with individuals making such statements.
Q: After his four-year boosters, my son developed chronic strep infections, skin infections, swollen lymph nodes all over his body, multiple food allergies and general fever and lethargy. His chronic eczema started at two-months followed by recurring ear infections and food allergies. He is fully vaccinated. His doctor checked his antibody titers and he has no titers for the pneumococcal vaccine. He is recommending that my son be re-vaccinated with the pneumococcal vaccine. I'm concerned about doing this in that it may further compromise his immune system. What do you think?
A: A certain number of people who are vaccinated will not develop antibodies to one or more vaccines no matter how many times they are vaccinated. We are not aware of evidence showing that additional vaccines given at this point will produce positive antibody titers. The fact that he does not have titers to the pneumococcal vaccine after being repeatedly vaccinated with the pneumococcal vaccine and his history of chronic infection, multiple allergies and eczema may indicate that he is suffering from chronic immune dysfunction.
You may want to consider getting a second opinion from an immunologist or other qualified health care professional before proceeding with more vaccination. Re-vaccinating in the face of health deterioration after previous vaccinations or vaccinating when sick can result in permanent health damage, depending upon the individual.
As a public service, NVIC provides our Ask Eight, If You Vaccinate webpage to assist consumers in becoming informed. NVIC encourages you to continue to read and educate yourself while seeking additional medical opinions. Only make fully informed medical decisions when you are ready and believe your decision is what is best for your child. Finding a doctor who is willing to help you and respect your informed vaccination decisions is very important.
If you, as a parent, are concerned that continuing vaccination would harm your child and a doctor is insisting more vaccines be given without your voluntary consent, you should contact another trusted health care professional for a second opinion. If your child has experienced health deterioration after previous vaccinations, it is important listen to your intuition and be totally comfortable with a vaccination decision for your child before proceeding with more vaccination.