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Vaccinations are a necessary part of childhood, and can save your little ones from diseases that harmed many children in the past.

Vaccinations are a necessary part of childhood, and can save your little ones from diseases that harmed many children in the past.

“Immunizing can save your child’s life, protect others you care about, and save your family time and money,” says pediatrician Nicole Hight, MD, of Carolinas HealthCare System’s Arboretum Pediatrics.

According to Dr. Hight, getting children vaccinated protects them when they are most vulnerable to life-threatening diseases. And while most kids (and adults, for that matter) aren’t fans of shots, side effects are minimal.

“Vaccination can involve mild discomfort,” she says, “but serious reactions are very rare.”

Confusion and controversy over vaccines has risen in recent years. One major claim swirling around: that vaccines could cause autism. Overwhelming scientific evidence indicates there is no association between any vaccine and autism, but it has nonetheless caused widespread fear of vaccinations.

“Vaccination is safe and effective,” assures Dr. Hight. “For almost all children, the benefits of protection against disease far outweigh any side effects. If you have any concerns, your doctor can discuss them with you.”

And it’s important to remember that immunizations don’t stop after childhood.

“Immunity from some diseases wears off over time,” says Dr. Hight. “Booster shots – for things like meningitis, tetanus and pertussis – can continue to keep your kids safe as they get older.”

Note that in North Carolina and South Carolina, vaccination records are checked when a child is enrolled in a child-care facility or school. Children are not allowed to attend school (whether public, private or religious) or a child-care facility unless they have received all immunizations appropriate for their age. Visit immunize.nc.gov for exemptions.

What to Do About the Flu

It’s important to get the flu vaccine every year – not just for your child, but for you too! A yearly flu vaccine is the best way to lower your family’s chances of getting the flu and spreading it to others.

Shot or mist? This year, the shot is best. For the 2016-2017 season, the nasal spray flu vaccine won’t be offered based on federal recommendations.

Contact your child’s pediatrician to set up their flu shot visit. Many practices offer special clinics and extended hours just for your tot’s shot.

Carolinas HealthCare System Vaccine Guide for Kids and Teens