Sound Advice

Sound Advice on Vaccines

Immunizations play a vital role in the health of the nation's children. To answer parents' questions about their children's vaccines, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a collection of interviews with pediatricians, researchers, advocates and other parents.

Click on the questions or descriptions below to hear responses to individual questions, or click on the link to listen to an entire interview.

Dr Cody MeissnerDr Cody Meissner
The immunization schedule
Michael Brady, MD, FAAPDr Michael Brady
The importance of adolescent vaccines
Sarah Long, MD, FAAPSarah Long, MD, FAAP
Protecting your family against whooping cough
Rosalynn Carter and Betty BumpersFormer First Lady Rosalynn Carter & Mrs Betty Bumpers
Why vaccines are important for children
Arthur AllenArthur Allen
Science and the media: A journalist ponders public perception vs scientific evidence
Frankie MilleyFrankie Milley
A preventable death: A mother's tragic story with meningitis
Harvey KarpDr Harvey Karp
Why vaccines are not the cause of autism
Ari BrownDr Ari Brown
Dispelling common vaccine myths
Meg FisherDr Meg Fisher
A baby's immune system - how it works and why hepatitis B vaccine is important
Anna Lincoln, MD, FAAPDr Anna Lincoln
A pediatrician's healthy baby becomes dangerously ill with pneumococcal meningitis
Paul OffitDr Paul Offit
Vaccine ingredients and how they work
Amanda PeetActress Amanda Peet
Vaccinating your baby: A message
Amy PisaniAmy Pisani
Be confident in vaccines- including the flu shot
Ken ReibelKen Reibel
A father learns about autism after his son is diagnosed
Judy Palfrey, MD, FAAPDr Judith Palfrey
Answers to questions about chicken pox, HPV, and MMR vaccines and herd immunity

Cody Meissner, MD, FAAP Cody Meissner, MD, FAAP
(Recorded February 2011)

Dr H. Cody Meissner is a pediatrician and associate editor of the AAP RedBook and Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Tufts Medical Center.

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  How are vaccine recommendations made?
•  Can you give some examples of how those decisions are made?
•  What is new in the 2011 immunization schedule?
•  Who should receive a meningococcal booster, and when?
•  What is the new pneumococcal vaccine?
•  What are the AAP's recommendations on flu vaccine?
•  Should boys receive HPV vaccine?
•  Is there a new recommendation on Hepatitis B vaccine?
•  Do you have any final advice for parents?

Michael Brady Michael Brady , MD, FAAP
(Recorded April 2011)

Dr Michael Brady is chair of the Committee of Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, and physician-in-chief and a member of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

•  If you breastfeed and keep your children at home, do you still need to vaccinate?
•  Who is at risk in measles outbreaks?
•  Hib meningitis is nearly eliminated by vaccine
•  What vaccines do infants need?

•  Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript
•  What vaccines do adolescents need?
•  When do teens receive Tdap?
•  Who is at risk for tetanus infection?
•  Is diphtheria still a concern in the U.S.?
•  Are teenagers at risk of whooping cough?
•  What is the change in the advice for meningococcal vaccine?
•  How dangerous is meningitis?
•  Why should girls receive the HPV vaccine?
•  Are there side effects to HPV vaccine?
•  Should boys receive the HPV vaccine?
•  How important is it for teens to get annual flu shots?
•  Do you have any final advice for parents?

Ari Brown, MD Ari Brown, MD, FAAP
(Recorded April 2009)

Dr Brown is a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, the author of “Baby 411” and “Toddler 411,” and a spokesperson for the AAP.

•  How important is it to follow the immunization schedule?
•  What ingredients are in vaccines?

•  Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript
•  Myth 1: Not necessary to vaccinate for diseases that have disappeared from U.S.
•  Myth 2: Vaccines contain harmful amounts of mercury.
•  Myth 3: Vaccines contain dangerous toxins.
•  Myth 4: Vaccines can overwhelm a child's immune system.
•  Myth 5: There's no harm in spacing out their child's vaccines.
•  Myth 6: It is better to let your child get chicken pox naturally.
•  Myth 7: The flu shot causes the flu.
•  What advice do you give parents who have questions about vaccines?

Sarah Long, MD, FAAP Sarah Long, MD, FAAP
(Recorded August 2010)

Dr Long, is chief of infectious diseases at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia and professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. She is also an associate editor of the Red Book of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  What is whooping cough, and what causes it?
•  How does it spread?
•  Who is most at risk of this disease?
•  How is it treated?
•  How can parents best protect their children?
•  When do people need a pertussis booster?
•  Will pertussis ever be eradicated?

Rosalynn Carter Betty Bumpers Rosalynn Carter and Betty Bumpers
(Recorded June 2009)

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and Mrs Betty Bumpers, wife of former US Senator Dale Bumpers, launched “Every Child By Two” in 1991. They first met and worked together while their husbands were governors of Georgia and Arkansas. Mrs Carter and Mrs Bumpers each play an active role in the activities of ECBT promoting the importance of timely immunizations.
Listen to full interview  -  Edited transcript

•  How did you and Mrs. Bumpers become interested in immunization?
•  On a personal level, what drew you to this issue?
•  How did you end up working so closely together for so long?
•  When you started, were many children not getting their vaccines?
•  While in the White House, why did you push for state vaccination laws?
•  Mrs. Carter, what were some of the other goals of the administration?
•  Mrs. Bumpers, how was Every Child By Two founded?
•  Mrs. Carter, what has Every Child by Two accomplished?
•  What do you think new parents need to know and understand?

Arthur Allen Arthur Allen
(Recorded May 2009)

Arthur Allen is a freelance writer and journalist based in Washington, D.C. He is the author of the book Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver.

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  Why did you start writing about vaccines?
•  How did you develop your New York Times "Autism Theory"?
•  Why is there a disconnect between scientific evidence and public perception?
•  Have you noticed a shift in how this issue is covered in the media?
•  Regarding your book title, why do you think vaccines are controversial?
•  Do you think parents don't understand the true risks and benefits?
•  What impact do you see celebrities having on this issue?
•  Who bears responsibility for outbreaks of disease due to unimmunized people?
•  What do you think needs to happen to restore public confidence in vaccines?
•  Are your children vaccinated?

Frankie Milley Frankie Milley
(Recorded May 2009)

Frankie Milley is the mother of an only child, Ryan Milley, who died from a vaccine-preventable form of meningitis when he was a teenager. Frankie Milley is the founder and executive national director of a non profit organization called Meningitis Angels. The organization educates on meningitis, vaccine preventable diseases and the vaccines to prevent them while offering support to those affected by them.

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  Tell us what happened to your son, Ryan.
•  Could Ryan's death have been prevented?
•  What vaccine protects against meningitis?
•  Why did you form the group Meningitis Angels?
•  Do parents & teens understand how dangerous this infection can be?
•  What frustrates you about the public discourse on immunization?
•  What advice do you give parents who are worried about vaccines?
•  Can you tell us about your new campaign, Stomping Out Meningitis?
•  What do you think is important for parents to know?

Dr Harvey Karp Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP
(Recorded May 2009)

Dr Karp is a pediatrician and child development specialist. He is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr Karp is the author of the books and DVDs "The Happiest Baby on the Block," and "The Happiest Toddler on the Block."

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  Dr. Karp, are shots a plausible cause of autism?
•  Is it just coincidence that children are diagnosed w/ autism after vaccines?
•  Why are some parents fearful of vaccines?
•  What is the result of this increasing fear of parents on public health?
•  Can too many vaccines overwhelm a child?
•  Are some children extra sensitive to vaccines?
•  Are vaccines related to mitochondrial disease?
•  Do pediatricians make a lot of money by giving shots?
•  Are immunized children still at risk from unimmunized children?
•  Is it better to delay certain shots than not to get them at all?
•  Which vaccines are most critical for infants?
•  What influence are celebrities having on parents' understanding of vaccines?

Meg Fisher, MD Meg Fisher, MD, FAAP
(Recorded April 2009)

Dr Fisher is a pediatrician and chair of the AAP Section on Infectious Diseases. She is editor-in-chief of the AAP book, “Immunizations & Infectious Diseases; An Informed Parent’s Guide.”

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  Are immunizations still important?
•  Are we seeing some of these diseases reappear?
•  How dangerous are the diseases that vaccines prevent?
•  How dangerous is the flu?
•  Why should infants get the Hepatitis B vaccine?
•  Do babies have natural immunity against diseases?
•  Are parents asking pediatricians to follow alternate vaccine schedules?
•  Is the schedule recommended by the CDC and AAP for everyone?
•  Are the ingredients in vaccines safe?
•  How well are vaccines studied in the combinations they're given?
•  Where should parents go to find accurate information about vaccines?
•  What advice do you give your own family about immunizations?

Anna Lincoln, MD Anna Lincoln, MD, FAAP
(Recorded April 2009)

Dr Lincoln is a pediatrician in private practice in Buda, Texas, and a graduate of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Dr Lincoln has two sons, ages 8 and 10, and a daughter who is 2 and a half.

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  Tell us about what happened to your eldest son when he was a baby.
•  Just after he was diagnosed, a pneumococcal vaccine was released, correct?
•  In your practice, do you have a lot of parents asking about vaccines?
•  How do you feel about alternative vaccine schedules?
•  What do you say to parents worried about vaccine side effects?
•  Why does the MMR vaccine trigger questions for parents?
•  Do you recommend the chicken pox vaccine?
•  What adolescent vaccines do you recommend?
•  What's the most important information parents need about vaccines?
•  How is your son doing today?

Paul Offit, MD Paul Offit, MD, FAAP
(Recorded April 2009)

Dr Offit is a pediatrician, chief of infectious diseases and the director of the vaccine education center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is a co-inventor of a vaccine for rotavirus. His most recent book is “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search for a Cure.” Dr Offit also serves on the board of the Autism Science Foundation.

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  Are vaccines safe?
•  Does giving several vaccines at once overload a child's immune system?
•  Are there toxins in vaccines?
•  Besides flu vaccine, is there a trace of ethyl mercury in other vaccines?
•  What about aluminum?
•  Are vaccines tested in combination w/ other vaccines given at the same time?
•  Should we really worry about preventing diarrhea or chicken pox?
•  Do vaccines cause autism?
•  Is it possible that vaccines cause autism in subset of vulnerable children?
•  Why doesn't someone do a study of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children?
•  What advice do you give young parents who hear scary things about vaccines?
•  Do you have any final thoughts?

Amanda Peet Amanda Peet

Amanda Peet, an actress and a mother, is a spokesperson for the “Vaccinate Your Baby” campaign by the advocacy organization Every Child By Two.

•  A Mother's Choice
•  Vaccinate Your Baby

Amy Pisani Amy Pisani
(Recorded April 2009)

Amy Pisani is the executive director of Every Child By Two, an advocacy group dedicated to ensure the immunization of all of America's children by the age of two.

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  Can you tell us your personal flu story regarding your 13-month old son?
•  Do you think parents understand how serious the flu can be?
•  Can you tell us about the origins of Every Child By Two?
•  How did actress Amanda Peet become involved with Every Child By Two?
•  Can you talk about the goals of the 'Vaccinate Your Baby' campaign?
•  Why do some parents have fears about vaccines?
•  What do you think parents need to know about vaccines?
•  Where can you get accurate information about vaccines?

Ken Reibel Ken Reibel
(Recorded April 2009)

Ken Reibel is the father of a son who has autism spectrum disorder, and the creator of the blog Autism News Beat.

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  How old was your son when he was diagnosed with autism?
•  Was that a difficult diagnosis to hear as a parent?
•  What do you think caused Chris's autism?
•  Why do you think some parents blame vaccines?
•  Did you ever think vaccines might be a cause of your son's autism?
•  What treatments have been most effective for your son?
•  Can you describe applied behavioral analysis, or ABA?
•  Have you tried any alternative treatments for Chris?
•  Why do you think some parents try alternative treatments for autism?
•  What advice do you have for parents who are getting an autism diagnosis?
•  What inspired you to start your blog, Autism News Beat?
•  How is Chris doing now? Are you hopeful for the future?

Judith Palfrey, MD Judith Palfrey, MD, FAAP
(Recorded April 2009)

Dr Palfrey is the T. Berry Brazelton Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is the author of five books and more than 100 articles on child health.

Listen to the entire interview  -  Edited transcript

•  Why are vaccine-preventable diseases making a comeback?
•  What diseases in particular are we seeing reappear?
•  Why do we care so much about preventing chicken pox?
•  If a family can't afford health insurance, how can they get vaccines?
•  What is the AAP doing on a federal level to promote immunization?
•  How important is it that vaccines be part of health care reform?
•  How can our leaders and vaccine manufacturers solve vaccine challenges?
•  What does 'herd immunity' mean?
•  What does the recent vaccine court decision on MMR vaccine mean for parents?
•  What new vaccines are being developed?
•  So the vaccine could be given in a nose spray?
•  Is the HPV vaccine safe?
•  Should boys get the HPV vaccine?
•  Where can parents go for reliable information about vaccines?
•  Do you have any final thoughts?

Last updated 5/5/2011

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