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What Every Parent Should Know About Immunizations Are immunizations safe? Yes. All immunizations – or vaccines – are fully tested for safety. The approval process used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is rigorous. Immunizations work by teaching your child’s body how to defend itself from certain diseases. Some immunizations contain a dead or weakened form of a virus or bacteria. Others, like the COVID-19 vaccine, deliver instructions on how to create a protein that triggers an immune response. During an illness, the body develops antibodies designed to fight off that disease. Immunizations teach the immune system how to create those antibodies without your child getting sick. What about diseases that are rare in the U.S.? Are immunizations for those still important? Those diseases are rare because of immunizations. Immunizations have reduced infections such as polio, whooping cough, diphtheria, measles and rubella. Some illnesses have made a recent resurgence. Diseases such as measles are still common elsewhere in the world. Travelers can bring these diseases back into this country. Without immunizations, the reintroduced diseases can spread quickly. For example, North Dakota has seen outbreaks of whooping cough in the past few years. Do immunizations cause harmful side effects? The risk for serious side effects or death from an immunization is so small that it’s difficult to document. In contrast, there is a much higher risk of serious illness from the diseases that immunizations can prevent. Some children experience minor side effects from immunizations. These can include low-grade fever, fussiness and soreness or swelling at the injection site. It’s very rare to have a severe reaction. Claims that immunizations cause autism or other diseases have been thoroughly disproven. After a careful review, the Institute of Medicine rejected the idea Christina daSilva, DO, is a pediatrician at the Sanford Children’s Campus in Bismarck that immunizations have any relationship to autism in 2004. Do I have to give my child every recommended immunization? A lot of research went into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended schedule. Sticking to the schedule means your child is immunized at the best times to protect them from infectious diseases. Cherry-picking which immunizations to give a child is very risky. When too many children skip immunizations, the community’s immunization rate drops. Serious preventable diseases can become more common. If you’re concerned about having your child immunized, talk to your doctor. How can my children get the immunizations they need? It’s easy! Keep regular wellness visits with their pediatrician. Pediatricians make sure children’s immunization status is up to date and provide essential routine health care. Call your child’s primary care provider to schedule a wellness visit. Christina daSilva, DO, is a pediatrician at the Sanford Children’s Campus in Bismarck. Dr. daSilva received an undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and a medical degree from Des Moines University in Iowa. She completed her pediatric residency training at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.