If you are expecting a child soon, you are probably in the market for car seats, carriers and a slew of baby-proofing gadgets to keep your new infant safe at home. While you research and consider what is best and safest for your child, you may have also come across some negative press about vaccinations. We are here to put your fears to rest. Just as you know that a safe car seat could save your child's life, we want to assure you that infant immunizations have the potential to do the very same thing. Here are five important reasons to have your infant immunized.

1. Vaccinations are safe and effective. After years of studies and careful review by healthcare professionals, the vaccine safety system ensures that vaccinations are safe and effective. While the media has questioned the link between vaccinations and autism, the CDC reports that there are no studies to prove this link. Some children do experience slight tenderness and swelling at the site of the vaccination, but the benefits of the vaccination's protection far outweigh the risk of these minor reactions.

2. Vaccine-preventable diseases still exist. In the past, vaccines have eradicated certain life-threatening diseases such as polio. However, when vaccine use declines or when those exposed to disease elsewhere are not vaccinated, less common diseases that are preventable return and affect those who are vulnerable. A good example of this is the whooping cough, which has seen a recent comeback in certain communities.

3. Vaccinations protect your entire community. Vaccinations not only prevent your child from becoming very sick, but they prevent the potential spread of disease to anyone you or your child comes in contact with. Vaccinations keep your entire family and those they care about safe.

4. Vaccinations save your family time and money. When children or other family members become sick, especially with one of the diseases vaccines protect against, they will need to stay home or have medical treatment to recover. This can cost families time and money, as they will spend more time away from work paying for medications and care.

5. Your questions about vaccinations can be answered. If you have questions or concerns about certain vaccinations, their side effects or long-term effects, be sure to bring these to your child's physician. He or she will spend the time answering your questions so that you are well informed about each vaccination offered, and will also share a detailed information sheet about each vaccination that you can take with you for future reference.

This week is National Infant Immunization Week, and we at North Hills Hospital hope that you will take the time to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations so you can protect your new child and your community from every vaccine-preventable disease. If you would like a physician referral, please call 1-855-5NHILLS.

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