Children's Hospital Colorado

What Parents Should Know About Vaccines

A woman with long brown hair, wearing in a gray sweater and blue latex gloves holds a needle in one hand while holding a boy's arm in the other hand, preparing to give him a shot. The boy has dark hair and is wearing a blue Super Bowl shirt with white and orange lettering.

The use of vaccines has led to major improvements in child and population health. Many of the infectious illnesses you or your parents may have had as children, like chickenpox, polio or measles, no longer affect most children today thanks to vaccinations.

As parents and caregivers, we all want to make sure our children are healthy and protected from harm, and vaccination is one of the best ways keep them safe, healthy and ready to grow and learn! However, some parents might have questions or concerns about vaccines. Read on to learn more about vaccines and how they work to provide the best possible protection against harmful disease.

Vaccines are safe and save lives

Vaccines protect against the spread of dangerous disease and save millions of lives worldwide each year. Not immunizing children puts them at risk to catch a disease that is dangerous or deadly and puts others who may encounter that child at risk, too. Vaccination is also important for protecting the whole community, especially vulnerable people who are not able to receive vaccines or can’t easily fight off infections like babies, the elderly and individuals with weak immune systems. Getting vaccinated is far better than getting the disease.

“Research shows that vaccines are safe and effective,” says Sean O’Leary, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado. “The risks of not vaccinating far outweigh the negligible risk of reacting to the vaccine. For example, while polio is no longer found in the United States, it is still only a plane ride away.”

Most reactions from vaccines, such as a sore arm or slight fever, are very minor and do not last long, whereas the diseases they prevent are often severe and can be fatal.

“It’s not a question that the vast majority of people who study vaccines and understand the science behind them immunize their own children,” Dr. O’Leary said. “Vaccinations are among the safest medical interventions we have, and they are a great gift we have to protect our children’s health.”

Read more about vaccine safety facts from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Vaccines are heavily researched and constantly tested

Time and again, scientific research has demonstrated that vaccines are very safe, effective and important for preventing serious disease. Because vaccines are given to young children, they are held to a very high standard and are constantly tested and monitored to make sure they are very safe.

With so much health information available to us in a variety of places, though, sometimes it can be challenging to determine fact from fiction. Understandably, parents may have questions or concerns about vaccinating their child. If you have questions or concerns about vaccination, talk to your child’s doctor who can provide you with information to help you feel confident about vaccination.

Read more about vaccine research and monitoring from The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Vaccines given on time provide the best protection

Each year, top disease experts and doctors who care for children work together to provide evidence-based recommendations for vaccines and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) immunization schedule. The immunization schedule is evaluated each year based on the most recent scientific data available and it is approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The vaccines included on the immunization schedule are carefully selected to give children the best protection at the best time. Following the recommended immunization schedule and getting your child vaccinated on time is the best way to ensure they are protected from potentially harmful disease.

For more information on how the schedule is determined, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

See an easy-to-read schedule from the AAP:

Learn more about the important work Immunize Colorado (formerly the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition) does to protect our Colorado community from vaccine-preventable diseases.

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