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Why all the debate about childhood immunizations? Below you'll find the common arguments for and against immunizing your child to help you make an informed decision.

The following is the recommended childhood immunization schedule released by the American Academy of Pediatrics for 2000:

0-2 months: Hepatitis B (Hep B)
1-4 months: Hep B
2 months: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertusssis (DTaP), H. Influenzae type b (Hib), Polio (IPV)
4 months: DTap, Hib, IPV
6-18 months: Hep B, IPV
6 months: DTap, Hib
12-15 months: Hib, Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
12-18 months: Varicella (Var)
15-18 months: DTap
4-6 years: DTap, IPV, MMR


COMMON ARGUMENTS FOR IMMUNIZING YOUR CHILD

1. Immunization protects children against dangerous childhood diseases by causing the body to create antibodies against very small doses of the disease.

2. Children should be immunized before they are two years old to protect them during their most vulnerable period.

3. Diseases such as measles and chicken pox can and do kill people.

4. If vaccinations were not given, many more people would be affected by the diseases.

5. Vaccines only cause minor side effects except in very rare cases.

6. Routine vaccinations of large populations have dramatically reduced the incidence of life-threatening diseases such as diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio.


COMMON ARGUMENTS AGAINST IMMUNIZING YOUR CHILD

1. There may be a link between immunizations and autism, cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome.

2. More children suffer moderate to severe symptoms from vaccinations than from the disease those vaccinations are supposed to prevent.

3. Many vaccines contain live viruses which can causes symptoms to occur in those who come in contact with a recently vaccinated child.

4. No studies have been done to test the long term effects of vaccines on the immune system.

5. Some vaccines contain formaldehyde which is potentially a cancer-causing agent.

6. Some vaccines contain thimerosal which is a mercury derivative banned by the Food and Drug Administration for use in over the counter drugs.


Some people agree 100% with one or the other side of this argument. Many parents, however, fall somewhere in between. Here are some options you may want to consider if you fit the latter category.

1. Have your child immunized later than recommended once his or her immune system has had a chance to mature.

2. Have your child immunized for some of the more serious and life-threatening diseases but not for the less severe ones.

3. Consider having half of the recommended dosage of a vaccine administered or split a whole dosage between two office visits.