Why Aren’t Parents Vaccinating Their Kids? Here’s What Experts Think

Each year, doctors stress to new parents the importance of getting their children vaccinated. However, each year, it appears there is another infectious disease outbreak, typically affecting people who were never vaccinated at birth. Specifically, measles tends to rear its ugly head at least once per year in the U.S. But why do some parents choose not to vaccinate their children? Experts have a few theories.


Vaccinations help keep children healthy. | Scyther5/Getty Images

Parents believe vaccines don’t actually work

Some parents think vaccinating their children is simply a waste of time. In recent years, the flu vaccine hasn’t been as a effective as doctors had hoped. And some parents equate a useless flu vaccine to other useless vaccines, such as the MMR vaccine that is recommended for young children. However, the vaccines children should receive when they’re young are extremely successful and reliable at preventing disease. They’re normally between 85% and 95% effective, and they’re designed differently than the flu vaccine, so it’s hard to compare them to it.

Parents are worried the risk of side effects is too high

A very, very small risk of complications is present with vaccines. According to the World Home Organization, the actual statistic of deaths is too difficult to assess because death — or severe complication by vaccine — is incredibly rare. However, anti-vaccine campaigns tend to run with the idea that vaccines are dangerous, which leaves parents questioning whether or not they should vaccinate their child. Some parents worry that the potential for death (which anti-vaccine campaigns suggest is much higher than it actually is) outweighs their child actually getting the disease.

Parents believe their baby’s immune system can’t handle so many vaccinations

Some parents worry that injecting too many different vaccines into their babies can overload the immune system and lead to complications. However, the assumption that the child “can’t handle” vaccines is incorrect. Although young children are getting more vaccines today than 30 years ago, it’s a perfectly safe vaccination process and only protects them against more diseases. There are 15 separate vaccinations that are recommended before the first year and a half of life, but they span over about 15 months, so it’s an incredibly safe process.

Parents think vaccines contain too many toxins

Anti-vaccination campaigns frequently push the idea of toxins in vaccines. While it is technically true, the toxins in vaccines are used to make the vaccines safer (such as prevent contamination and keep the virus in good working order) and only contain very, very trace amounts. Parents.com reports that the amount of toxins in vaccines is far less than what any individual would get simply by breathing the earth’s air. They do not make vaccines unsafe in any way.

Parents think vaccines are just a way for the pharmaceutical industry to make money

Pharmaceutical companies have long battled the idea that medications, new treatments, etc. are only a way for them to make money. While pharmaceutical companies do make money on this, that is not the purpose of getting your child vaccinated. Vaccinations are safe and effective, and they’re very important to keeping your child healthy. The risks are incredibly minimal, and any kind of anaphylactic reaction to the drug is a literal one in a million chance.

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