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Benefits from vaccines outweigh any worries about side effects

Doctors said unless parents remain vigilant about vaccinating their children, flare-ups of previously forgotten diseases could become the norm. (FILE)

The Centers for Disease Control was monitoring a measles outbreak in 21 states in August, including Missouri.

Doctors said unless parents remain vigilant about vaccinating their children, flare-ups of previously forgotten diseases could become the norm.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Robin Allen. She said parents should treat vaccinations like any other important decision by looking at the hard numbers, and then weighing the pros and cons.

Allen said medical professionals are starting to see cases of childhood illnesses that were previously highly unusual. "Whooping cough, we're actually seeing cases of that. Hepatitis A is another one, I've read about an outbreak of that in Kentucky. So these things are appearing," she said.

She said the good news is that these diseases don't have to happen. "We've been blessed to have vaccines to prevent illnesses like these, " she said. "But it's important to remember these diseases are very real, and kids can get really sick from them."

Allen said the protection provided by vaccines far outweighs any worry about side effects. She said serious, life-threatening reactions to vaccines are less than one in a million. "We're just more aware of it because one person's story can reach millions of people through a social media app and in years past we didn't have that. So it seems much more common, but it's really not," she said.

Minor reactions at the vaccination site are normal, Allen said. "Redness at the sight, there can be a knot under it, swelling at the site, warmth at the site, there can be a fever. But all of those are local reactions we would expect with every vaccine. A fever is actually a good thing because it means the body is actually reacting to the vaccine, it's responding, and it's doing its job," she said.

Allen said parents can best protect their kids - and their community - by making sure they stay up to date on all vaccines.

She also said there was no need to memorize when your child needs which vaccine, as long as you bring your child in to their pediatrician at least once a year for a well-child check up.

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