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Every parent wants to know what the immunization visit is like and has lots of questions. To better understand the benefits and possible side-effects of vaccines read on for information and answers to some frequently asked questions.

The Immunization Visit

Before the Immunization Visit

If you have an immunization record card for your child, take it along so the doctor can enter the shots given today. If he is getting his first vaccination(s), ask for a record card. This card could come in handy later to show that your kid has had the vaccinations necessary to get into kindergarten or school, or if you move or switch providers. The doctor should enter the immunizations into an electronic medical record or immunization registry.

The doctor or the nurse will ask you some questions about your kid. Be prepared to tell them:

  • If your little one ever had a severe reaction to a dose of a vaccine.
    Babies often get a mild fever or a sore leg after vaccinations. But let your doctor know if your child has ever had a more severe reaction. There are a couple of unusual reactions that could be a reason not to get another dose of certain vaccines.
  • If your little one has severe allergies.
    A severe allergy reaction is one that could be life-threatening. An infant who has a severe allergy reaction to a substance that is in a vaccine should not get that vaccine. Milder allergies are not a problem. You can not be expected to know whether your baby is allergic or not to every substance in every vaccine, but do report any allergies you know about, including eggs, yeast, gelatin, any antibiotics, or latex. Your health care provider or nurse will be able to check them in opposition to the lists of vaccine ingredients. Do not be too worried that your kid might have allergies you do not know about. Severe allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare (around one in a million), and your health care provider is prepared to treat them if they do occur.
  • If your little one has an immune system problem.
    A kid with a damaged or subdued immune system should not get immunizations that contain live viruses, such as Varicella, MMR, or Rotavirus. Immune system problems can be caused by illnesses such as AIDS, sickle cell disease, leukemia, or cancer, or by medical treatments such as chemotherapy, steroids, or radiation. Your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare providers will be able to help you answer any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do we know immunizations are not causing long-term health problems?

A: Observing vaccinated kids for many years to look for long-term health problems would not be practical, and withholding a beneficial vaccine from children while long-term studies are being done would not be ethical. A more efficient method is to look at health problems themselves and of the factors that cause them. Experts are already working to identify risk factors that may lead to conditions like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Thousands of studies have already been done observing at hundreds of potential risk factors. If vaccines were identified as a risk element in any of these studies, we would have known by now about it. So far, they have not.

The CDCs learn about a vaccine’s safety through clinical trials before it is licensed. They monitor it regularly as millions of shots are administrated after it is licensed. They also know there is not a possible biologic reason to believe vaccines would cause any severe long-term effects. Based on more than fifty years of experience with vaccines, CDCs say that the likelihood a shot will cause unanticipated long-term problems is too low.

Click here to learn more about the immunization visit, during, and after, and a lot more frequently asked questions.

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