Vaccines are parents’ most successful and cost-effective health tools for protecting their children from avoidable diseases and death. The reason such emphasis is placed on immunizing infants and young children is that they are particularly vulnerable to infection and can easily spread disease to others.

By vaccinating these children against debilitating and potentially fatal diseases by age 2, the children are protected from most of them for life (some require boosters after age 2), and the community is protected from the spread of the disease. Millions of dollars in health care costs are also avoided.

Cost should never be a reason to avoid vaccination. All mandated vaccinations are covered by all health insurers and government programs—the federal Vaccines for Children program and New York’s Child Health Plus—cover the cost of vaccinating the poor and uninsured.

Fear should never be a reason either. Thanks to advances in medical science and continual research and monitoring, vaccines are extremely safe—infinitely safer than the disease they are protecting against. In most cases, vaccines cause no side effects, or only mild reactions such as fever or soreness at the injection site. Very rarely, people experience more serious side effects, like allergic reactions. Despite extensive research, there is still no evidence that vaccines can cause autism.

Parents and caregivers are ultimately the ones responsible for making sure that their children get properly immunized. It is, therefore, important for parents to know what vaccines should be given to their children and when in order to make sure their children get them on time and to keep accurate records.