American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Vaccines Save Lives and Promote Health

Girl receiving vaccinationSome parents wonder whether their children should be vaccinated. But well-established science has proven that vaccines are safe and serve as a primary defense in protecting patients against needless suffering and death.

Vaccines help save lives,” explains Jan N. Widerman, DO, an osteopathic pediatrician from Philadelphia. “Without vaccines, potentially deadly diseases and illnesses, such as hepatitis, diphtheria, and tetanus, could spread to large portions of the population and become serious threats to public health.”

How Vaccines Work

Immunizations contain antigens that cause diseases; however, the antigens in vaccines are weakened or killed. Exposure to such weakened antigens stimulates the immune system to create antibodies that prevent disease. 

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"Children and infants are exposed to hundreds of antigens every day," adds Dr. Widerman. “Thus, an immunization with a typical exposure of only three antigens causes no significant stress at all to the immune system.”

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with you to help you get healthy and stay well.

Testing Effectiveness

Vaccines receive extensive scientific testing to guarantee both their safety and effectiveness before they are released to the public. Based on this testing, recommendations on type and schedule of vaccinations are released twice a year by the Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Immunization Practices, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Why It's Important to Have Your Child Vaccinated

While vaccines are safe for most children, in some rare cases a child’s immune system may not be able to handle vaccination.

“Children who have certain types of cancer or diseases, or who are taking drugs that lower the body's ability to resist infection, should not receive vaccines,” says Dr. Widerman. He advises parents to check with their child’s pediatrician before getting their child vaccinated.

The real danger associated with vaccines is the unvaccinated child, who then puts children who are unable to get vaccines at risk. 

“Vaccines help to protect not only the child being vaccinated, but also the child who is not vaccinated,” explains Dr. Widerman. “If the vast majority of children are vaccinated, then it will be much more difficult for a disease to spread.” 

This is why the government requires children to have a certain number of vaccinations before they are allowed to attend school. 


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