Misconceptions about the need for and safety of routine childhood immunizations are potential causes of delayed immunization, under immunization, or both in the United States. Several common misconceptions of parents have been addressed by CDC (6 Common Misconceptions About Vaccination and How to Respond to Them, National Immunization Program, DCD, 1996; available at:www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/6mishome.htm).
In an effort to inform parents further, the AAP has published a brochure entitled Immunizations: What You Should Know. These documents address common questions about routine childhood immunizations, including the following:
“Why should children be immunized when most vaccine-preventable diseases have been eliminated in the United States?” While immunizations have dramatically reduced the incidence of a number of childhood diseases in the United States, many of the diseases remain prevalent in other areas of the world and easily could be introduced into the United States and without immunization could spread quickly. Unimmunized children also will be at risk throughout their lives, including when they travel to countries where vaccine-preventable diseases are endemic.
“Do immunizations work? Haven’t most people who get a vaccine-preventable disease been immunized?”A few people do not respond to vaccines, but most childhood vaccines are 85% to 98% effective. Therefore, while some immunized children will develop the disease, the vast majority are protected.
“Aren’t some vaccine lots more dangerous than others?” All vaccines are licensed and monitored before and after release by the FDA. No evidence indicates that individual lots of commonly used vaccines differ in safety.
“Isn’t giving children more than one immunization at a time dangerous?” Numerous studies have shown that recommended routine childhood immunizations can be given safely at the same time.