FAQ - Immunizations

Are immunizations safe?

A. Reactions to the shots may occur, but they are rarely serious. The site may be tender to touch for a few days. Remember that the risk of not immunizing your child is far greater than the risk of a serious reaction.

Do immunizations work?

A. YES! if your child gets the right shots at the right times, you can greatly reduce the chances of getting these diseases.

How do I prove that my child has had shots?

A. Make sure that you take your child’s immunization record with you when you enroll your child in school or childcare. You will be given a Certificate of Immunization Status to complete with the date of your child’s shots. Parent and guardians can sign the Certificate of Immunization Status; there is no need to have it signed by your child’s medical provider. However, if you are 15 years of age or older you do not need a parent or guardian to sign the Certificate of Immunization Status; you may sign it yourself.

What if I don't have money to pay for shots?

A. Even if you don't have the money to pay for shots, your public health clinic offers them at a very low cost. At the Washington County Health Department, no one is denied service based on the inability to pay. Call 503-846-8851.

What if I’m behind on my Hepatitis B vaccines?

A. When the hepatitis B vaccine schedule is interrupted, the vaccine series does not need to be restarted. If the series is interrupted after the first dose, the second dose should be given as soon as possible and the second and third doses should be separated by an interval of at least eight weeks. It is not necessary to restart the vaccine series for infants switched from one vaccine brand to another, including combination vaccines.

What should I know about thimerosal and autism?

A. Thimerosal is organic mercury based preservative used in vaccines. Thimerosal has been an additive to vaccines since the 1930’s because it is very effective in preventing bacterial and fungal contamination. There are no valid studies that show a link between thimerosal in vaccines and autistic spectrum disorder. "Since 2001, all routinely recommended vaccines manufactured for administration to [children] in the U.S. have been either thimerosal-free or have contained only extremely small amounts of thimerosal." -American Academy of Pediatrics

When should my child get immunized?

A. Children need to get immunized when they are babies. Many parents think that children don't need shots until they are ready to enter school. That's not true! Children need most of their shots during their first two years, starting at birth or when they are two months old. Children who are behind on their shots need to get immunized to "catch up" and be protected.

Where can I get a Certificate of Immunization Status form?

A. Your child’s school or childcare provider will have copies of the correct form. You can also pick up a copy at your local county health department.

Where should I go to get my child immunized?

A. Your child's regular health care provider can give the needed shots. Ask about shots at every visit. Pharmacies provide some vaccines. Washington County health clinics in Hillsboro and Beaverton also provide shots. Call 503-846-8881 for an appointment. Our bilingual professional staff will be happy to answer your questions.

Why is it important to keep a shot record for my child at home when the doctor’s office has a copy?

A. Most people are busy and have trouble remembering a shot from years back. Keeping a shot record of your child’s immunizations ensures that your child will not miss any vaccinations or, conversely, get too many shots. Your child’s immunization record is an important part of your child’s permanent medical record that will be needed throughout his or her lifetime. It’s up to you to make sure your child is protected.

Why should I get my child immunized?

A. Your child needs shots for protection against very bad diseases that can cause rashes, fevers, coughing, choking, brain damage, heart problems, crippling, deafness, blindness and even death. Most parents of young children today have never seen a case of the measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, or tetanus. If we don't see these diseases it can be hard to understand why it is important to protect against them. Vaccines are still given for three reasons:

* To prevent common infections
Some diseases are so common in this country that a choice not to vaccinate is a choice to get the disease. For example, choosing not get the chickenpox vaccine is a choice to risk serious and occasionally fatal infection from chickenpox.
* To prevent infections that could easily reemerge
Some diseases in this country continue to occur at very low levels (for example, measles, mumps, rubella, and Hib). If immunization rates in our schools or communities are low, outbreaks of these diseases are likely to occur.
* To prevent infections that are more common in other parts of the world

Although some diseases have been completely eliminated (polio) or virtually eliminated (diphtheria) from this country, they still occur in other parts of the world. Children are commonly paralyzed by polio in India or killed by diphtheria in Russia. Because there is a high rate of international travel into and out of the United States, outbreaks of these diseases are only a plane ride away.