Intermountain Healthcare is committed to safety and quality by promoting evidence-based medicine to patients and their families. It is our best practice to recommend adults and children get fully immunized to protect themselves and our communities from disease based on the research, evidence, outcomes, guidelines and timelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Parents and patients should speak with their provider individually to discuss appropriate vaccinations and vaccination schedules. Intermountain will guide on best recommendations but also values shared decision-making with our patients and families, and will not deny care to patients who are not immunized or to those who follow individual preferences for vaccinations or vaccine schedules.

Immunizations and Vaccine Safety FAQ:

The various messages and sources of information available today can cause confusion about immunizations. These FAQs can help guide patients, parents, families and communities through common questions to help make an informed decision:

Why Immunize Children?

Immunizations protect children and our communities from dangerous and deadly diseases.

Why Immunize Adults?

In addition to keeping children safe, adults need immunizations throughout life to keep individuals and others safe from vaccine-preventable diseases. Adults need to keep vaccinations up to date because immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time. People are also at risk for different diseases as an adult. Vaccination is one of the most convenient and safest preventive care measures available. Individuals may need other vaccines based on age, health conditions, job, lifestyle or travel habits.

Why not wait, what are the risks of not getting vaccinated?

Children under five years of age are especially susceptible to disease because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight infection. By immunizing on time (by age two), we protect children from disease while also protecting others at school or daycare. It can take weeks for a vaccine to help children make protective disease-fighting antibodies, and some vaccines require multiple doses to provide best protection. If a parent waits until they believe the child could be exposed to a serious illness – like when he or she starts daycare, travels abroad or during a disease outbreak – there may not be enough time for the vaccine to work.

Are there current outbreak risks?

Yes. The United States has had more than 1,200 cases of measles in 2019. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000. Most recently, health officials reported that a person with a confirmed case of measles visited Las Vegas from August 1 - 6, 2019. Those who may have been exposed, or develop symptoms, should seek medical advice immediately. Measles can spread quickly in communities where people are not vaccinated – more than 27,000 Utah students are not fully immunized for measles in 2019. Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting infected. To learn more, the CDC has answers to Frequently Asked Questions about measles in the U.S.

Are vaccines safe?

Making sure vaccines are safe is a priority for the CDC. The CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) take many steps to make sure vaccines are very safe both before and after the public begins using the vaccine. Before a vaccine is ever given to people, the FDA oversees extensive lab testing of the vaccine that can take several years to make sure it’s both safe and effective. After lab testing, testing in people begins, and it can take several more years before the clinical studies are complete and the vaccine is licensed. Once a vaccine is licensed, the FDA, CDC, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies routinely monitor its use and investigate any potential safety concerns.

Who should get vaccines?

Patients/parents should talk to their provider individually to discuss appropriate vaccinations and vaccination schedules. Access the ACIP’s recommended schedules here.

Who should opt out of vaccines?

Because of age, health conditions or other factors, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. Read the CDC guidelines for each vaccine.

What about combination vaccines, or getting multiple vaccines at once?

Receiving combination vaccines and/or multiple vaccines at the same time is safe and offers protection against multiple diseases during one office visit. Giving several shots at the same time means fewer office visits. This saves time and money and can be less physically and emotionally traumatic, particularly for children.

What are the possible side effects from vaccines?

Any vaccine can cause side effects. For the most part these are minor (for example, a sore arm or low-grade fever) and go away within a few days. It’s important to know that vaccines are continually monitored for safety, and like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. However, a decision not to immunize a child also involves risk and could put the child and others who come into contact with him or her at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease. For a list of vaccines licensed in the U.S. and associated side effects, visit the CDC’s Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) that are based on the ACIP’s recommendations.

Do vaccines cause autism, seizures or SIDS?

There is no link between vaccines and autism. Some people have had concerns that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) might be linked to the vaccines children receive, but studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing ASD. In 2011, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on eight vaccines given to children and adults disproves causal relationships between vaccines and adverse events like ASD. ASD is a developmental disability that is caused by differences in how the brain functions. Recent estimates from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network found that about one in 59 children have been identified with ASD in communities across the United States. The CDC is committed to providing essential data on ASD, searching for causes of ASD and factors that increase the risk for ASD, and developing resources that help identify children with ASD as early as possible.

Fevers can be caused by common childhood illnesses like colds, the flu, an ear infection or roseola. Vaccines can also cause fevers. Regardless of the cause of fevers, sometimes, fevers can cause a child to experience temporary spasms. Spasms or seizures caused by fever are called “febrile seizures”, and these are uncommon after vaccination. The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), among other organizations, attest that febrile seizures do not cause any permanent harm and do not have any lasting effects or lead to chronic seizure. Vaccines also help prevent seizures—by protecting against infections and diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, influenza and pneumonia that cause higher-grade fevers.

Vaccines have not been shown to cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies receive multiple vaccines when they are between two to four months old. This age range is also the peak age for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The timing of the two-month and four-month vaccines and SIDS are only coincidental but has led some people to question whether they might be related. Studies have found that vaccines do not cause and are not linked to SIDS. Multiple research studies and safety reviews have looked at possible links between vaccines and SIDS. The evidence accumulated over many years do not show any links between childhood immunization and SIDS.

What resources exist for parents and patients still hesitant to vaccination?

For parents and patients who question vaccination schedules and want to alter timelines, or who are opposed to or hesitant to vaccination, the AAP offers great information to help answer these concerns along with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center. Remember that at Intermountain we value shared decision-making with our patients and families. Providers should listen to concerns without interruption, thank the person for sharing those concerns, educate the risks of not vaccinating and of altering timelines, and explore and recommend the best options. However, we should not deny care to those patients and families regardless of their immunization decisions.

How can we support patients and families needing financial support for vaccines?

A CDC program called Vaccines for Children provides free vaccines to eligible children, including those without health insurance coverage, those enrolled in Medicaid, American Indians, Alaskan Natives and those whose health insurance doesn’t cover vaccines.

More Resources:

CDC Contact:

1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)
TTY: 888-232-6348