Information on Vaccine Safety

Today, many parents wonder about the safety of vaccines and the recommended vaccine schedule. If you are a parent, you might be considering delaying or spac- ing out your child's vaccines, or foregoing them all together.

In order to help parents make informed decisions about vaccines, KDHE has put the following resources together. If you have further questions or concerns regarding vaccines please don't hesitate to contact us at 785-296-5592 or talk to your health care provider.

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Why vaccines are important

There are a lot of diseases in the world we live in caused by viruses and bacteria. In the past, there were no vaccines to protect people from disease. Thousands of people got sick and even died. Today we have vaccines to help protect us. By giving vaccines, the United States has done a good job of protecting its people. But these diseases are still in the world today and we are often just a plane ride away from these diseases. Vaccines are the best thing we have to protect us, our families and our communities from diseases. The more people that are protected, the less chance diseases can spread.


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How Vaccines work

The Immune System

When you are exposed to viruses or bacteria you have side effects. Take the common cold: you may feel tired, achy, have a runny nose or cough, maybe run a fever as your body fights this cold. If you cut your finger, it can get red, feel warm to the touch, or even have some swelling.

When viruses or bacteria enter our body, they rapidly start to multiply. The body calls on immune soldiers to fight these invaders. It can take the body a few days to build up enough soldiers to fight the invaders. Once the immune soldiers have defeated the invader, they stay in the body. That way if you are ever exposed to that virus or bacteria again, they can be ready to fight once again because that virus or disease is their specialty.

How Vaccines Work

A vaccine takes a piece of a virus or bacteria that is weakened or killed. The body senses the invader and as we just described, the body calls on its immune system to fight. Because it uses the same defenses, you may feel tired or achy, may have some swelling or redness at the site you got the shot. It doesn't mean you are getting the disease, it means your body is fighting the way it always does.

The great thing about the vaccine is, the body still calls on its immune soldiers to fight, but it doesn't have to work as hard because the virus or bacteria has been weakened or killed. The soldiers are stored in the body in case you are ever exposed to that disease again. If you are exposed to that disease, the body will call on those soldiers to once again fight. You may still get a little sick from the disease, as the body begins to multiple those soldiers, but it will not be as bad as if you would have been without the vaccine.

Most side effects from vaccines are mild and go away in a day or two. Severe side effects are rare. Vaccines are tested and then they continue to be monitored to make sure they are safe. Some vaccine protection goes away with time. That's why it is important to talk to your doctor about which vaccines you might need to get again. For example, viruses like the flu continue to change every year, so it is important to get your flu shot every year to protect you from these changes.

Check out How a Vaccine is like a Banana for more information.


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The Vaccine Schedule

The recommended immunization schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life threatening diseases.

Check the schedule for the age or age range when each vaccine or series of shots is recommended. Or create a personalized schedule that shows the recommended dates for your child. If your child has missed any shots, work with your child's doctor to determine vaccination dates for the missed or skipped vaccines. See your doctor if you have any questions.


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Vaccines for Children

What is VFC?

Vaccines for Children

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program helps provide vaccines to children whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them. This helps ensure that all children have a better chance of getting their recommended vaccinations on schedule. Vaccines available through the VFC Program are those recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). These vaccines protect babies, young children, and adolescents from 16 diseases.

A child is eligible for the VFC Program if he or she is younger than 19 years of age and is one of the following:

  • Medicaid-eligible
  • Uninsured
  • Underinsured [1]
  • American Indian or Alaska Native

Children whose health insurance covers the cost of vaccinations are not eligible for VFC vaccines, even when a claim for the cost of the vaccine and its administration would be denied for payment by the insurance carrier because the plan's deductible had not been met.

  1. Underinsured means the child has health insurance, but it
    • Doesn't cover vaccines, or
    • Doesn't cover certain vaccines, or
    • Covers vaccines but has a fixed dollar limit or cap for vaccines. Once that fixed dollar amount is reached, a child is then eligible.

Underinsured children are eligible to receive vaccines only at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinics (RHC). An FQHC is a type of provider that meets certain criteria under Medicare and Medicaid programs. To locate an FQHC or RHC, contact the state VFC coordinator

Click here for current list of VFC Providers


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Do I need to get a Vaccine?

Vaccines during pregnancy

Regardless of your vaccine history, women who are pregnant need to get the whooping cough vaccine. When you get the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy, your body will create protective antibodies and pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies protect your baby on the short-term immediately after birth. Whooping cough can be hard to identify in newborns because many babies won't cough. Whooping cough can cause babies to stop breathing and turn blue. The sooner you can protect your baby from whooping cough the better.

If you are pregnant during the flu season, it is also good to get your flu shot. Pregnancy can lower your immune system and increase your chances of catching the flu which is harmful to your baby. Getting the flu shot will protect you and your baby after birth from flu-related complications.

For more information visit:

Vaccination for surrounding friends and family

Babies and people with compromised immune systems (especially those receiving cancer treatment) are more vulnerable and more likely to be attacked by viruses or bacteria. People who are not protected by vaccines can easily spread diseases, often times without meaning to.

The term "cocooning" means just that. We can protect or cocoon babies and those more vulnerable to diseases by protecting ourselves. If you have children or grandchildren or are around anyone with a weakened immune system, vaccinating yourself protects them.

Vaccinating yourself not only protects you, it protects your family, and friends, but it also helps to protect your entire community. The more people that are vaccinated and protected, the fewer opportunities diseases have to spread.


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Where can I get a Vaccine?

You can get immunizations at your doctor's office, university health clinic, a local health department or at a community health clinic. Sometimes you can even get vaccines at a clinic at work. Click here to find a clinic near you.

Public Health Directory Map


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Additional Information

See the below websites for more information

When searching for credible Immunization websites on the Internet, please consider the following:

To assess whether a website is providing credible evidence based information, scan the site to see whether it provides information on Authority (clearly states who hosts the site, and what their expertise is), Attribution (cite credible sources for their information), Disclosure (clearly states source of financial support, whether money is earned from products promoted on the site) and Currency (is information updated and current?). These principles are adapted from the HON Code Principles by the Health on the Net Foundation in Switzerland and an article entitled "Assessing, controlling and assuring the quality of medial information on the Internet" by Silberg et al., JAMA 1997;277(15): 1244-5.

Kansas Immunization Program
1000 SW Jackson, Suite 210
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1274
877-296-0464, FAX (785) 559-4226
To report Vaccine Preventable Diseases, call toll free 1-877-427-7317 or
Fax 1-877-559-4212