Resources and Information Regarding Pediatric Care

Vaccine Policy

The providers at Premier Care Pediatrics firmly believe in the effectiveness and the safety of vaccines to prevent serious illness and to save lives in children and young adults.

Vaccines are a critical element in preventing serious disease and death as a result of infectious diseases. There have been significant advancements over the past century and many common diseases that once posed a risk to children all over the world, like polio and smallpox, have been eliminated. Scientific breakthroughs continue to enhance the quality of life of children and as a parent your pediatrician should be able to help you understand the importance of vaccinating your child so that you can make an educated choice.

Vaccine Policy

The providers at Premier Care Pediatrics firmly believe in the effectiveness and the safety of vaccines to prevent serious illness and to save lives in children and young adults.

Vaccines are a critical element in preventing serious disease and death as a result of infectious diseases. There have been significant advancements over the past century and many common diseases that once posed a risk to children all over the world, like polio and smallpox, have been eliminated. Scientific breakthroughs continue to enhance the quality of life of children and as a parent your pediatrician should be able to help you understand the importance of vaccinating your child so that you can make an educated choice.

The reason we start early in this process is that 1) the infant’s immune system is vulnerable to a variety of serious and disabling infections, and 2) the vaccines work by gradually inducing immunity through repeated doses, so their immune system can be fully ready when they may encounter the actual disease. Many parents are concerned regarding the number of vaccines in the schedule, which is reasonable. As new vaccines are developed, they may be combined in a single injection. One of the myths is that this could “overwhelm” the immune system, but studies have shown that combination vaccines do not cause any increased risk and may serve to increase the overall immune response. The recommended vaccines and the ages at which they are given are the result of years and years of scientific study and the data gathered on a million so children by many scientists and physicians.

Since the inception of our vaccine program, safety has always been a concern and despite rigorous testing many people have raised questions as to their safety. Almost every vaccine has had some false claim that it is related to a serious complication like measles and autism. The vaccine campaign is truly a victim of its own success. It is precisely because vaccines are so effective at preventing illness that we are even discussing whether they should be given. Because of vaccines, many of you have never seen a child with polio, tetanus, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis or even chicken pox, or know a friend or family member whose child died of one of these diseases. Such success can make us complacent or even lazy about vaccinating. But such an attitude, if it becomes widespread, can only lead to tragic results.

Furthermore, by not vaccinating your child or young adult you are taking an unfair advantage of thousands of others who do vaccinate their children, which decreases the likelihood that your child will contract one of these diseases. We are making you aware of these facts not to scare you or coerce you, but to emphasize the importance of vaccinating your child. We recognize that the choice may be very emotional for some parents. We will do everything we can to convince you that vaccinating according to schedule is the right thing to do. However, should you have doubts please discuss these with your doctor in advance of your visit. In some cases, we may alter the schedule to accommodate parental concerns or reservations. Please be advised, however, that delaying or “breaking up the vaccines” to give one or two at a time over two or more visits goes against expert recommendations, and puts your child at risk for serious illness (or even death) and goes against our medical advice as providers at Premier Care Pediatrics. Such additional visits may require additional co-pays on your part. Furthermore, please realize that you will be required to sign a “Declining of Vaccines” acknowledgement in the event of lengthy delays or the refusal of certain vaccines.

Finally, if you should absolutely refuse to vaccinate your child despite all our efforts, we ask that you find another health care provider who shares your views. We do not keep a list of such providers nor would we recommend any such physician. Please recognize that by not vaccinating, you are putting your child at an unnecessary risk for lift-threatening illness or disability, and maybe even death. Any questions you may have regarding the care of your child, including vaccination, should be addressed in a meaningful way with your provider.

**In rare cases, certain disease processes may compromise or weaken the immune system and it may be necessary to avoid live vaccines for a short period of time. The provider will always assess each patient and recommend the safest course of action when vaccinating your child. **

Are Vaccines Safe?

Vaccines are among the safest medical products available, and scientists are working to make sure they are made even safer. Every vaccine undergoes extensive testing before being licensed, and vaccine safety continues to be monitored for as long as a vaccine is in use.

Most side effects from vaccination are minor, such as soreness where the injection was given or a low-grade fever. These side effects do not last long and are treatable. Serious reactions are very rare. The tiny risk of a serious reaction from a vaccination must be weighed against the very real risk of getting a dangerous vaccine-preventable disease or suffering complications from it.

Why are vaccinations important and what do they protect against?

Vaccinations protect your child against serious diseases by stimulating the immune system to create antibodies against certain bacteria or viruses. Immunizing your child protects them against serious diseases like measles, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, rotavirus, hepatitis A and B, chickenpox, pneumonia, influenza, and more.

I do not know anyone who has had these diseases. Why does my child need them?

Because of vaccines, many of you have never seen a child with polio, tetanus, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis, or even chickenpox, or know a friend or family member whose child died of one of these diseases.

While a few of these diseases have virtually disappeared in the United States because of vaccination, outbreaks of measles and whooping cough still occur, and they are common in other parts of the world. If we stop vaccinating against these diseases, many more people will become infected. Such success can make us complacent or even lazy about vaccinating. But such an attitude, if it becomes widespread, can only lead to tragic results.

Why do we start administering vaccines to infants so early?

The infant’s immune system is vulnerable to a variety of serious and disabling infections, and the vaccines work by gradually inducing immunity through repeated doses, so their immune system can be fully ready when they may encounter the actual disease.

For infants, most vaccinations are given on a 2, 4, and 6-month schedule and follow guidance from the CDC as they grow. Doses cannot be given too close together or immunity does not have time to build up. On the other hand, you do not want to delay your child’s vaccinations and get behind schedule because, during this time, your child remains unprotected against these serious diseases.

How many times do I need to bring my baby in for vaccinations?

At least eight visits are recommended before age two, and we recommend those visits coincide with well-child checkups. Your baby should get the first vaccine (hepatitis B) at birth, while still in the hospital. Multiple visits during the first two years are necessary because there are 14 diseases your baby can be protected against, and most require two or more doses of vaccine for the best protection.

How many vaccines should my child get at one appointment?

Many parents are concerned regarding the number of vaccines in the schedule, which is reasonable. As new vaccines are developed, they may be combined in a single injection. One of the myths is that this could “overwhelm” the immune system, but studies have shown that combination vaccines do not cause any increased risk and may serve to increase the overall immune response. The recommended vaccines and the ages at which they are given per CDC guidance are the result of years and years of scientific study and the data gathered on millions of children by many scientists and physicians.

Do vaccines have side effects?

Vaccines are among the safest medicines available. Some common side effects are a sore arm or fever. There is a very small risk that a serious problem could occur after getting a vaccine. However, the potential risks from the disease that vaccines prevent are much greater than the potential risks associated with the vaccines themselves.

Do vaccines cause other complications such as autism?

No, studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing autism spectrum disorder. Since the inception of the vaccine program, safety has always been a concern and despite rigorous testing, many people have raised questions as to their safety. Almost every vaccine has had some false claim that it is related to a serious complication. The vaccine campaign is truly a victim of its own success. It is precisely because vaccines are so effective at preventing illness that we are even discussing whether they should be given.

Why is it important that all children get vaccinated?

Unvaccinated children can spread the disease to other children, even those who have been vaccinated since no vaccine is 100% protective.

Vaccines are effective not only because they protect individuals who have been vaccinated but also because they confer a broader protection for communities by establishing "community immunity" also called herd immunity. When certain diseases still exist, the public health gains achieved through vaccines can only be maintained by ensuring that vaccination rates remain high enough to prevent outbreaks.

Community immunity is critical for protecting the health of many groups of people who are especially vulnerable to communicable diseases: those who cannot be vaccinated, either because they are too young or because a medical condition makes vaccination too risky.

We are making you aware of these facts not to scare you or coerce you, but to emphasize the importance of vaccinating your child.

Can my child be on an alternate vaccine schedule?

Delaying or “breaking up the vaccines” to give one or two at a time over two or more visits goes against expert recommendations, and puts your child at risk for serious illness (or even death), and goes against our medical advice as providers at Premier Care Pediatrics. Such additional visits may require additional co-pays on your part. Furthermore, please realize that you will be required to sign a “Declining of Vaccines” acknowledgement in the event of lengthy delays or the refusal of certain vaccines.

What if I have other concerns about vaccinating my child?

We recognize that the choice may be very emotional for some parents. We will do everything we can to convince you that vaccinating according to schedule is the right thing to do. However, should you have doubts please discuss these with Dr. Garver in advance of your visit. In some very rare cases, we may alter the schedule to accommodate parental concerns or reservations.

What if my child should not medically receive certain vaccines?

In rare cases, certain disease processes may compromise or weaken the immune system and it may be necessary to avoid live vaccines for a short period of time. Dr. Garver will always assess each patient and recommend the safest course of action when vaccinating your child.

What if I choose not to vaccinate my child?

If you should absolutely refuse to vaccinate your child despite all our efforts, we ask that you find another health care provider who shares your views. We do not keep a list of such providers nor would we recommend any such physician.

Please recognize that by not vaccinating, you are putting your child at an unnecessary risk for life-threatening illness or disability, and maybe even death. Any questions you may have regarding the care of your child, including vaccination, should be addressed in a meaningful way with Dr. Garver.

What if my baby has a cold or fever, or is taking antibiotics? Can he or she still get vaccinated?

Yes. Your child can still get vaccinated if he or she has a mild illness, a low-grade fever, or is taking antibiotics. Call us if you have questions prior to your child’s appointment.

What if I miss an appointment? Does my baby have to start the vaccines all over again?

No. If your child misses some doses, it is not necessary to start over. Our staff will continue from where he or she left off according to the CDC’s recommended catch up schedule.

What if I cannot afford to get my child vaccinated?

Your child’s health depends on timely vaccinations. At Premier Care Pediatrics we do not want to miss an opportunity to vaccinate when families cannot afford to pay. Through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, vaccinations are low cost or possibly free. This program is funded by the state of Montana. If you have questions regarding eligibility, please call our office.

I am traveling abroad, what vaccinations do I need?

Contact our office or the Cascade County Health Department (CCHD) as early as possible to find out which immunizations you may need. Vaccines against certain diseases, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever, and typhoid fever are recommended for different countries. The time required to receive all immunizations will depend on whether you need one-shot or a series of shots.

We only carry certain vaccines in our office, and you may need a prescription to get certain immunizations at the CCHD. You can also visit the CDC's Travelers' Health Website for up-to-date information on immunization recommendations for international travelers.

Vaccine Management

At Premier Care Pediatrics we take not only vaccine education seriously, but also the management of our vaccine program in the office very seriously. Temperature must be monitored and kept within acceptable ranges, so the vaccine is both safe and effective. We have gone to great lengths to exceed those standards using the latest technology. Power outages can occur and cause the vaccine to fall out of range for brief periods of time. There are a number systems we employ to assure vaccine temperature is managed at a constant temperature and in applying a system of “real time” temperature monitoring and we are alerted immediately, 24/7, of any problems related to storage of our vaccine supply. We also have a back up power supply should there be a loss of power to the office. We have taken these steps to maintain quality standards in vaccine safety so that there is no compromise in the vaccines stored in our facility.

We are proud of all the added safety precautions we take so that you can feel confident in the care you receive at our office in all areas, but particularly in vaccine management and safety.

We have a remote temperature monitoring system for our vaccines. Monitoring vaccines is a requirement by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). At Premier Care Pediatrics we have taken it a step further in having round the clock monitoring of our vaccine stock through our remote temperature system to ensure the safety of the products that we use for our patients.