Vaccines: Beneficial or Harmful?

Kaete Schmidt

More stories from Kaete Schmidt

One question that an expecting mother is frequently asked is “Will you vaccinate your baby?” As a first-time mother, this sparks quite a bit of curiosity, leading into weeks of research to come up with a solid answer. Each website varies; there are ones that make vaccines seem like the devil himself, and then there are some that make not vaccinating kids sound like child abuse. The question becomes, who is a credible source, and what risks am I willing to take?

I believe in vaccinations and their ability to save lives. There was a time when I was one of the pregnant mothers spending my time researching the “right” decisions to make for my son. Ultimately, I made the decision to have him vaccinated, as I saw more benefits and life-saving aspects rather than the negative, rare side effects that could possibly happen.

Some major concerns that parents may come across include the harmful side effects. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, despite the rarity, vaccines have reportedly lead to seizures and increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Although this can invoke fear, there may not be much for parents to worry about.

Long-term seizures, comas, lowered consciousness and permanent brain damage may be associated with the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) and MMR vaccines. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes the rarity of the reaction makes it difficult to determine causation. states that the flu vaccine could be associated with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a disorder in which the person’s immune system attacks parts of the peripheral nervous system, in about one or two per million people vaccinated.

The most common side effect of vaccines, a severe allergic reaction by the name of anaphylaxis, occurs in one per several hundred thousand to one per million vaccinations. According to Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN and practicing neurosurgeon, “you are 100 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine that protects you against measles.”

From the second that a new life enters the world, it is the parents’ job to protect that sweet, innocent, defenseless being from any potential harm. This means it is terrifying for a parent to read about all of the fatal diseases and side effects that can come with vaccinating their child. Luckily, the parent can soon be soothed by the opposing side and the statistics to show what vaccines are truly capable of.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “most childhood vaccines are 90 to 99 percent effective in preventing disease.”

A common misconception about vaccines is that they can lead to autism. According to, this belief surfaced years ago when parents began noticing a correlation between the time their child was vaccinated and the time their child was diagnosed with autism. This was simply due to the fact that when children began to get vaccinated, it was also the same time that the child began to develop noticeable signs of autism. Ultimately, scientists do not support a link between autism and vaccines.

In addition to recognizing the benefits of vaccinating my son, I also strongly believe that some vaccinations are unnecessary due to the little severity related to the sickness. This includes chickenpox, measles, Rubella and Rotavirus. While these diseases may cause severe discomfort and pain, all can be treated with over the counter medications, rest and fluids.

While vaccines have declined mortality ratings and, in some cases have eliminated disease, there are still vaccine-related deaths occurring today. While the numbers are incredibly low, as a mother, the probability is still terrifying. Yet there is always the little voice in the back of a parents mind that is saying “but what if my baby is that 1 percent?”.