How to get the most out of vaccinations

Written by Jenny Raskin for CNN

This story originally appeared on eHow.

When Dr. Chris Kirk, a chief physician with the Texas Department of State Health Services in Dallas, advises parents, pediatricians and anyone else who wants to keep up to date with vaccinations, one question he often hears is, “Why aren’t they getting the COVID vaccine for their kids? I’m wondering if they will get their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine done soon.”

Kirk isn’t concerned about parents holding off on the children’s MMR immunization routine, but he sees a growing trend in parents who have concerns about vaccines.

This anxiety, he says, is rooted in headlines about past cases of vaccine-related side effects. While doctors may not have any definitive proof that vaccines cause autism or that they cause a whole host of debilitating illnesses, they can’t rule it out, he says.

“The media is not helpful,” he adds. “They [the headlines] pretty much know where we sit with this.”

Kirk’s second point is that it’s “crazy” to spread misinformation about vaccines. Even if that information is correct, he says, that doesn’t make it accurate or right to share it — a practice that could lead parents to skip vaccines for their children.

If you’re concerned about vaccines for your children and fear the vaccines are causing harm, take a look at this list of things that should concern you first, Kirk advises.

1. Vaccinations are safe and effective. He says that he has heard vaccines blamed for everything from autism to side effects in babies as young as 6 months old.

Instead, Kirk says, use vaccine information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations as research sources.

2. You shouldn’t vaccinate your child if you already have a disease. Kirk says it’s not a good idea to get a vaccination for measles and then infect the people around you.

3. Many parents keep children home from school when they have a fever because they’re afraid their child will get sick. Children can stay home from school if they have a fever of 100 degrees or higher.

4. Read the labels and visit your child’s physician if you have any questions about the vaccine or where it should be given. Most vaccinations will come in small amounts, Kirk says, and some may need a booster dose.

Kirk says that the CDC suggests that people — particularly pregnant women and infants younger than 6 months old — get vaccines against 14 diseases, including vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella.

In Texas, “highly infectious diseases can be very serious, so the sooner you get them done the better off you are. It’s important to get vaccinated,” Kirk says.

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