Making the Decision


Vaccines prevent serious diseases and have helped to lower the rates of these diseases in the U.S. By getting vaccinated, individual children receive protection from these diseases.

Vaccines also help to protect communities by slowing or stopping disease outbreaks. This is especially important for children who cannot be vaccinated because they are too young, too sick, or do not respond to vaccines. The following pages provide more information that will help give you peace of mind about the decision to immunize your child.

Why Immunize?

Visit our Why Immunize page to learn about the history of diseases and how common they are today. This page offers information on the diseases for which vaccines are offered, how these diseases can harm your child, links to pages dedicated to each disease, and a letter from pediatrician Ari Brown, MD, FAAP, describing the dangers of skipping vaccination, and how this practice has become popular.

You can also visit History of Vaccines.

Are Vaccines Safe?

Yes! Vaccines are generally recognized as safe with minor side effects, while protecting against very serious diseases.  Get answers to common questions about vaccine safety and how vaccines are licensed. Information includes background on MMR, thimerosal, autism, and the ingredients in vaccines


Evaluating Web Information

The Internet has made vast amounts of immunization resources available to parents. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether the information presented is credible or not. Find out how you can know that immunization information on the Web is from a trusted, valid source.


School Entry Requirements

Currently, all 50 states have school immunization laws—although there are differences in what may be required in different states. All 50 states allow exemptions from vaccines for medical reasons; 48 states allow exemptions for religious reasons; and about 20 states allow exemptions for philosophical reasons.

State Laws
These resources list the daycare and school entry requirements in each state.

This site provides background on exemptions from immunization and the health consequences associated with exemptions.

Anna's Story

Spotlight on HealthAnna Lincoln, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician in Buda, Texas, and a mother of three. Her first-born son, Wiley, became dangerously ill with pneumococcal meningitis when he was a baby.



Last Updated: 4/3/13

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