When parents choose not to vaccinate Risks & Responsibilities
Protecting your child
Parents are responsible for their child’s health and well-being, including protecting them from vaccine-preventable diseases.If you choose not to vaccinate your child you should understand the risks. You need to know how to make it less likely that your child gets an infection or spreads disease to others.
Infant and childhood vaccines prevent diseases that can be serious and even deadly. Some examples:
- Measles can cause brain swelling, which can lead to brain damage or death.
- Mumps can cause permanent deafness.
- Meningitis can also lead to permanent deafness or brain damage.
- Polio can cause permanent paralysis.
Any child can be exposed to these infections. While avoiding contact with sick people is useful, infections like measles can also spread through the air. Your child may come in contact with people are carrying germs, even if they don’t seem sick.
There are no treatments or cures for diseases like measles, mumps and polio. The only proven way to protect your child is with vaccines.
- Protecting others
- Vaccine-preventable disease
- Tetanus: Vaccination is the best protection
- Travelling without vaccination
Delaying or refusing some or all vaccines for your child puts his health and life at risk. It also risks the health of other people. Those most at risk include:
- People with weakened immune systems due to other diseases or medications they are taking.
- People with chronic medical conditions like lung, heart, liver, kidney disease or diabetes.
- Newborn babies, who are too young to be vaccinated against most diseases.
- The elderly, who may be at higher risk of complications from diseases.
Communities depend on high immunization rates to keep vaccine-preventable diseases from spreading. When more people are immunized, there is less risk for everyone. The more parents that choose to not vaccinate their children, the greater the risk that infection will spread in the community.
If you choose not to fully vaccinate your child, follow these steps:
- If your child is sick and you call or visit a health care provider, immediately tell office staff and the doctor that your child is not vaccinated (whether for some or all vaccines). They will consider the possibility that your child has a vaccine-preventable disease, which may affect what tests they do. If your child has a vaccine-preventable disease, precautions can be taken so that the disease does not spread to others.
- Always keep vaccine records accessible so that you can report which vaccines your child has received, if any.
- Consider changing your mind and protecting your child with a vaccine. Talk to your child’s doctor or to someone at a public health clinic.
- Your child may be asked to stay away from school, child care or other organized activities. You will be advised when it is safe for your child to return. Be prepared to keep your child home for up to several weeks.
- Learn about the disease and how it spreads, although it may be impossible to avoid exposure.
- Each disease is different. The time between when your child may have been exposed and when he may get sick will vary. Talk to your child’s doctor to find out when your child is no longer at risk of coming down with the disease.
- If you know that your child has been exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease, learn what symptoms to look for and get urgent medical care if these develop.
- Follow recommendations to separate your child from others, including family members – especially newborn babies, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases.