The ins and outs of immunization

The World Health Organization estimates that vaccinations help save about 3 million lives every year. Despite their many benefits, vaccines have come under increased scrutiny due to recent safety concerns, media hype and public misinformation. The issue of immunizing children is now a polarized one, leaving many parents confused.

Dr. Roy Steinbock, M.D. and Board Certified Holistic Pediatrician, educates parents about the risks and benefits of vaccinating children at the Mindful Pediatrics practice in Boulder, Colorado. "There are fears on both sides of the argument," he says. "Some are very smart, but some make no sense."

Dr. Steinbock recognizes a few problems with vaccine development practices. Safety studies focus on short term side effects rather than long term implications, which may still be unknown when a vaccine goes on the market. He also finds a problem with the fact that toxic ingredients are found in some vaccines. However, he notes that mercury exposure is no longer a threat in updated formulations.

Based on his research, Dr. Steinbock believes that there is an essential problem with the "one size fits all" approach that the Centers for Disease Control take with their immunization recommendation. "We should be smarter and custom tailor to individuals," he says.

The CDC's 2008 schedule calls for 11 types of vaccinations to be administered to children from birth to age six. Discussing susceptibility with your child's pediatrician can allow them to advise based on things like trends where you live, possibility of exposure and family medical history.

While your child might be better suited with a different plan, Dr. Steinbock does make two recommendations to everyone. First, never vaccinate a child if they are sick because no studies have been done on children with compromised immune systems. Then? Relax and be confident with your own decision.
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