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National Institutes of Health • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCCAM Clinical Digest

Childhood Vaccinations/Immunizations

April 2011
A boy with an adult recieves a shot from a health professional.

Parents want to feel confident that they are making the best health care decisions for their children. This confidence can be undermined when there is conflicting information in the media and on the Internet. Nowhere is this more prevalent than when it comes to the topic of the safety of childhood vaccines.

The value and safety of vaccinating children against dangerous illnesses cannot be overstated.

The benefits of vaccination in preventing illness and death have been repeatedly proven and greatly outweigh the risks.

In this context, a recent study in Washington State,* funded by NCCAM, is troubling. The investigators found that children who receive care from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers are less likely to receive the recommended pediatric immunizations and are more likely to be diagnosed with one of several, sometimes life-threatening, vaccine-preventable diseases.

NCCAM urges parents to follow the CDC’s vaccination recommendations in order to safeguard their children against vaccine-preventable diseases. NCCAM also encourages all health care provider organizations—both conventional and CAM professional organizations—to engage their membership in immunization awareness and promotional activities to increase support for and adherence to childhood immunizations.

* Downey L, Tyree PT, Huebner CE, et al. Pediatric vaccination and vaccine-preventable disease acquisition: associations with care by complementary and alternative medicine providers. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2010;14:922–930.

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NCCAM Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH, DHHS. NCCAM Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on CAM, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCAM-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training CAM researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCAM Web site at nccam.nih.gov. NCCAM is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

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Content is in the public domain and may be reprinted, except if marked as copyrighted (©). Please credit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.

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