Are vaccines necessary?

Dawn Sorenson, MD, is the Physician Practice Lead in Pediatrics at Banner Health Center in Maricopa. Her office can be reached at (520) 233-2500.

Question: Are vaccine booster shots necessary?

Answer: The very short answer to this question is “yes,” and here’s why. Vaccinations have been one of the greatest public health achievements of our time. They have reduced and, in some instances, eradicated diseases that once killed, sickened, and/or severely disabled children and adults.
Booster shots are follow-up vaccines given at a designated time after the initial series of that vaccination was received. For example, the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster is given at age 11 and then every 10 years after.

The purpose of booster shots is to increase the body’s immunity to a particular disease at a time when the initial vaccine may start to wear off. Without booster shots, the protective effects of some vaccines can begin to wane, leaving your child more exposed to potential disease. However, by keeping a child up to date with his or her booster shots you can ensure that he or she will be protected against preventable illnesses and infections.

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about vaccines and a great deal of misinformation has been spread as a result. The truth is the benefits of vaccines, far outweigh any potential risks. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that vaccines given to infants and children during the past 20 years will prevent more than 320 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Not vaccinating your child or skipping booster shots puts him or her at risk for illnesses and also opens the door for preventable diseases to emerge and spread in our communities. 

The amount of available information and misinformation about vaccines can be overwhelming. If you have questions or concerns about vaccines, please speak to your health care provider. He or she will be happy to help your sort through this information to ensure that you are confidently making the best decisions for your child.