Mumps, diphtheria, polio – these all sound like old-timey diseases you could only risk contracting in the Oregon Trail video game.
However, it wasn’t all that long ago that there were no vaccines for many of these severe and potentially life-threatening diseases. Vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella – combined now into the MMR shot – were developed between 1963 and 1969 – only a few years before the original Oregon Trail game itself was developed in 1971.
These diseases are highly uncommon today because vaccines are highly effective when given to very young children, who have underdeveloped immune systems. Some parents worry about vaccinating their infants, having heard that vaccines can cause autism or otherwise hurt their children. However, vaccines are extremely safe. The Federal Drug Administration requires years of development and stringent testing, and monitors use and side effects of vaccines after releasing them.
The idea that vaccines cause autism has been thoroughly debunked. The original study that suggested a link was retracted years ago due to blatantly unethical research methods. There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism in any way. There are often some mild side effects to vaccination, such as a sore arm and occasional mild fever. Very rarely a child will be allergic to a vaccine component and experience more severe side effects (a 2015 study indicates this is literally a one-in-a-million chance). In rare cases, some health conditions, such as weak immune systems or cancer, make certain vaccines not an option for certain children (see a full list broken out by vaccine HERE).
Vaccinating your child also helps protect other children who may be immunocompromised or unable for other health reasons to receive certain vaccines. If you are experiencing any concerns about vaccinating your child, take time to talk to their pediatrician. The doctor will be able to answer any questions you have and help you ensure your child is protected from easily preventable diseases.