Each year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issues new guidelines for childhood vaccines. The goal of the guidelines is to lower rates of illnesses that can be prevented with vaccines.
The 2010 guidelines, which appear in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics, were approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Vaccines are credited with helping to reduce rates of many serious, and even deadly, childhood illnesses. Here's what you should know about the changes made this year:
The guidelines also came out in favor of "combination" vaccines. They are preferred over separate vaccine shots. A combination vaccine contains more than one virus or bacteria. An example of this is the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which contains three viruses.
Most parents have their children vaccinated. However, some parents have concerns about the safety of vaccines.
For instance, some worry that the MMR vaccine might cause autism. But vaccine safety experts agree that the rise in autism rates is not due to the vaccine. In addition, the Institute of Medicine looked into these claims and found no link between autism and the MMR vaccine. What's more, the Lancet recently retracted the 1998 study that first suggested a link between the two.
Most health experts agree that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. Nonetheless, if you are worried about childhood vaccines, talk with your child's doctor. Here are some questions you might ask:
Check with your child's doctor to make sure that your child is up-to-date on all vaccines.
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Vaccines aren't just for kids. There are many reasons why adults need to be vaccinated, too.
First, you may not have gotten a certain vaccine as a child. Second, your immunity can fade over time. Third, new vaccines are now available. Finally, some vaccines are meant to be given regularly, such as the flu shot.
The vaccines you need will depend on your risk factors and medical history. The list of recommended vaccines includes:
Talk with your doctor to find out which vaccines you might need.