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Five reasons to have your kids vaccinated

Vaccinations have come a very long way since infectious diseases like smallpox and whooping cough (pertussis) were considered epidemics centuries ago.

People - especially children - are living longer and healthier thanks to boosting their immune systems at a young age. While vaccines are not just for kids, it is critical to get vaccinated during childhood years.

Skipping vaccines increases the chances for illness, hospitalization and even death. Remember to talk to your doctor to ensure you are current. Here are five reasons to have your children vaccinated.

1. Safeguarding against disease

Vaccines confer immunity against disease. Before vaccines became common in the US, scores of children were losing their life to infectious diseases such as meningitis, measles, mumps, pneumonia and even polio, a debilitating and paralyzing disease that is now considered near extinct. Advancements have allowed parents to protect their child against more diseases.

2. Vaccines are safe

As vaccines have progressed, they have become more purified and effective. While they have always been safe, continuous improvements have reduced the amount of side effects, such as high fevers, people endure. Minimal reactions today include some pain, redness and discomfort at the site of the injection. Very rarely do vaccines cause allergic reactions. Even so, the disease an unvaccinated child could come down with is far worse than any possible side effects.

3. Vaccines do not cause autism

There used to be growing concern that vaccines cause autism. This is false. During the last two decades, extensive studies have proven that vaccines play no part in whether a child has autism spectrum disorder. The American College of Pediatrics has provided a lengthy list of research to quell fears of the effects of vaccines, including autism.

4. Vaccines can prevent certain types of cancer

Part of preventive medicine, some vaccines can protect against contracting hepatitis B and even cancer, including human papillomavirus (HPV) - a group of more than 100 different viruses that are one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infections around the globe. Children should receive the HPV vaccine during early adolescence, before the onset of sexual activity, to protect against cervical, throat, penile, vaginal, anorectal and vulvar cancer.

5. Protect others

Vaccines save lives. They protect children and those around them. The threat of diseases like meningitis have diminished significantly because of these life-saving vaccines.

Marjorie Serotoff, MD, is Northwell Health's director of pediatrics and a pediatrician at Cohen Children's-Northwell Health Physician Partners General Pediatrics at Islandia.

"As vaccines have progressed, they have become more purified and effective. While they have always been safe, continuous improvements have reduced the amount of side effects, such as high fevers, people endure."
— Marjorie Serotoff, MD
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