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Vaccines and Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction

Paul A. Offit, MD, FAAP and Charlotte A. Moser

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March, 2011
Paper, 264 pages, 1 tables
ISBN: 978-0-231-15307-2
$16.95 / £11.95

Questions Parents Have About Vaccines


What are vaccines?

Why do we still need vaccines?

How do vaccines work?

How are vaccines made?

What steps do pharmaceutical companies go through to make vaccines?

Who recommends vaccines?

How do we know vaccines work?

Are vaccine-preventable diseases really that bad?

Isn’t it better to be naturally infected than immunized?

Are vaccines given on a one-size-fits-all schedule?

Is there any harm in using an alternative schedule?

Why can’t vaccines be combined to lessen the number of shots?

Why aren’t more vaccines given by mouth?

Can I avoid vaccines by living a healthy lifestyle?

Why should I trust a system that makes money for drug companies?

Should vaccines be mandated?

Is it my social responsibility to get vaccines?

Are vaccines safe?

How do I know if a problem is caused by vaccines?

What systems are in place to ensure that vaccines are safe?

How do we know that different vaccines can be given at the same time?

Do too many vaccines overwhelm the immune system?

Do too many vaccines weaken the immune system?

Do too many vaccines cause chronic diseases?

Do vaccines cause autism?

Do vaccines cause allergies and asthma?

Do vaccines cause cancer?

Do vaccines cause diabetes?

Do vaccines cause mad cow disease?

Do vaccines cause multiple sclerosis?

Do vaccines cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?

Are there “hot lots” of vaccines?

Is the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) a good way to tell whether a vaccine is harmful?

Are package inserts useful?

How do I sort out good from bad information about vaccines?


Do vaccines contain products to which children could be allergic?

Do vaccines contain harmful preservatives like mercury?

Do vaccines contain harmful adjuvants like aluminum?

Do vaccines contain harmful chemicals like formaldehyde?

Do vaccines contain ether or antifreeze?

Are vaccines made using aborted fetal cells?

Do vaccines contain products from animals?

Practical Considerations

How do I deal with my child’s fear of shots?

What can I do to make the vaccine visit less stressful?

Who shouldn’t get vaccines?

Can I vaccinate my child if he is ill?

Can I vaccinate my premature baby?

Can I vaccinate my child if he’s taking steroids?

Can I receive a vaccine if I’m pregnant?

Can I vaccinate my child if I’m breastfeeding?

What if my child inadvertently gets an extra dose of vaccine?

What if my child inadvertently misses a dose of vaccine?

Can I vaccinate my child if someone in the home is immune compromised?

Do vaccines given in countries from which children are adopted still count?

Individual Vaccines

Vaccines in the First Year of Life

Hepatitis B

Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis



Haemophilus influenzae type b



Vaccines in the Second Year of Life

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella


Hepatitis A

Vaccines for Adolescents and Teens


Human Papillomavirus

The Vaccine Schedule

Vaccine Schedule and Combination Vaccines

Why This Schedule?

Changes to the Schedule

Catch-up Schedule


Vaccine Records

A Note About Registries

Selected Reading


About the Author

Paul A. Offit, M.D., F.A.A.P., is the chief of Infectious Diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He has authored Autism's False Prophets; Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases; The Cutter Incident: How America's First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis; and Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All.

Charlotte A. Moser is the assistant director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and creator of the center's program for parents, known as Parents PACK. She has developed a variety of educational materials about vaccines, oversees the center's Web content and contact center, and writes the monthly e-mail newsletter for Parents PACK, which has several thousand subscribers.

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