Essential Advice For Parents On Vaccines

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Back-to-school season often means a trip to the doctor’s office to keep up-to-date with vaccines and booster shots. All children, whether in public or private programs, who are entering childcare, kindergarten, and seventh grade or newly enrolled in a Michigan school district are required to be up-to-date with immunizations.

“Vaccines are one of the most successful public health interventions ever,” says Jordan Kridler, M.D., a pediatrician with Henry Ford Health System. “Vaccinating is one of the best ways for parents to protect their children against many preventable and potentially fatal communicable diseases.”

Dr. Kridler explains that vaccines help prevent infection by working with the body’s defense system to develop immunity to the disease. Vaccines do not cause the disease they are preventing.

Many parents are used to the immunization schedule and the vaccines that are given to babies and young children but might be less knowledgeable about vaccines like the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which is recommended for children age 11-14.

“As children go into their teen years, there are a different set of diseases that they are at risk for, so there are additional vaccines that they will need to get to be protected against these diseases,” Dr. Kridler says.

Staying current with immunizations also applies to students heading off to college. Check with your child’s college for individual requirements. Some colleges may ask for official immunization records, which can be obtained from your doctor’s office. One frequently required college immunization includes the meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine.

Easing Concerns Over Vaccinations
Though a lot of the myths about the risks posed by vaccines have been debunked, some parents continue to have concerns about vaccinations.

“Many of the diseases that vaccines prevent are no longer prevalent and therefore many parents are not familiar with them and do not perceive them as a risk,” Dr. Kridler says. “As a result, many parents think of the risk of getting the vaccination as outweighing the actual risk of the disease and therefore opt to delay or avoid vaccines completely.”

Worries over the safety of vaccines have also lead some parents of young children to explore the option of alternate immunization schedules than the official schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). However, Dr. Kridler discourages parents who may want to follow alternate vaccine schedules or “space out” vaccines.

“Alternative schedules increase the duration of vulnerability to vaccine-preventable diseases that continue to cause outbreaks, increase the risk of under vaccination and may increase the risk of adverse effects. They also normally require extra visits that can be cumbersome and time consuming,” she says.

When in doubt, it is important for parents to have thorough conversations with their child’s pediatrician to better understand the recommended vaccinations, and their risks and benefits.


To find a pediatrician or family medicine provider at Henry Ford or make an appointment, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Dr. Jordan Kridler is a board-certified pediatrician who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Royal Oak.

Categories: ParentWell

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