The actor made a bold choice when he vowed to vaccinate his children against the pandemic. The 25-year-old father-to-be chose Merck’s MMR and RA27/3 vaccines, as opposed to relying on a standard jabs booster shot to protect against influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “the benefits of receiving one or more of these vaccines outweigh the risks.”

And what are the risks of getting vaccines? According to the CDC, the side effects are generally mild and manageable. However, there is one caveat:

  • People who have allergies or severe reactions to vaccines generally shouldn’t get them.
  • Getting a vaccine does not guarantee that you will not get sick with the disease it protects against.
  • Certainty is an important part of any decision around getting a vaccine, and people should have that when considering vaccinating their children.

With that in mind, what is the appeal of these vaccines to young Hollywood stars?

Vaccines Keep Kids Safe

One of the main reasons why celebrities get vaccinated is that childhood diseases still affect them. Take measles for example: According to the CDC, the virus remains endemic in the U.S. and is responsible for between 12,000 and 24,000 cases each year. Between 2010 and 2014, there were 59 outbreaks of measles in 21 states, with the largest one occurring in 2014, affecting 49 people in Michigan. Because of vaccination, the number of cases dropped by 90% – from 230 in 2010 to 29 in 2014.

Another example is varicella (chickenpox). Between 2012 and 2016, there were between 70 and 80 cases of varicella each year. Most commonly, people get the virus through exposure to someone who has it, particularly children who are unable to develop their natural immunity due to their young age. Vaccinating against this disease can prevent it from wreaking havoc on young Hollywood stars’ home lives.

Protect Against Influenza

One of the biggest concerns for celebrities getting sick is the effect that it will have on their child’s health. Between 2010 and 2016, there were 28 cases of influenza reported among Hollywood stars’ children, with 12 of these cases being acquired from school. In one instance, a child’s asthma was aggravated due to their parents’ travel to Italy, where the virus originated. In another example, a baby girl had to be hospitalized due to complications from the flu.

As previously stated, the risks of getting sick with an influenza virus are generally mild. Nevertheless, it’s still something to be feared, particularly since the pandemic of 2009. That’s when everyone’s concern shifted to the H1N1 virus – or swine flu – and the fear that it could be more harmful than the flu typically is.

Toward the end of 2016, the CDC released its annual report on the influenza vaccination, which revealed that of the 26.3 million Americans who got the shot, 23.7 million were likely to be protected from influenza for the coming season. That’s compared to 19.8 million who were likely to be protected from the flu via a traditional jabs booster shot.

Additionally, the number of yearly vaccines increased by 1.3 million in 2016, with the biggest jump occurring among children between the ages of six months and five years. These figures highlight the fact that while the risks of getting a vaccine are relatively low, the advantages of doing so far outweigh these risks.

Vaccines Can Protect Against Multiple Diseases

Another reason why celebrities get vaccinated is that they don’t want to be vulnerable to infections that can potentially cause them harm. Take influenza again, for example. Besides causing sickness, it can also lead to severe complications, including pneumonia and death. In fact, in 2015 alone, there were 66,000 deaths due to influenza, making it the No. 1 cause of death that year.

To combat this, the best defense is a strong offense, and that’s why most people who get vaccinated against influenza receive more than one of the shots. Even better, the CDC recommends that annual influenza vaccinations be offered to all adults over the age of 65, with pregnant women and those who are at high risk of complications from the virus receiving priority treatment. This is because the elderly and pregnant women are more likely to suffer serious effects from an influenza infection.

Another example is pertussis (whooping cough). This disease is mostly contracted through direct and close contact with an infected person – coughs and sneezes are its most common ways of dissemination. Nevertheless, infants are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pertussis, which can lead to short-term asthma attacks, pneumonia, and even fatal complications. The good news is that there is a vaccine for pertussis. It is also one of the only vaccines that protect against both mild and severe cases of the disease. So, aside from keeping your child safe from influenza and its complications, getting them vaccinated against pertussis could also reduce the risk of them developing asthma in the future.

Getting The Shot Doesn’t Come Without Its Risks

While there are numerous benefits to getting vaccines, the risks of doing so cannot be overlooked. As mentioned by the CDC, getting a vaccine does not mean that you will not get sick with the disease it protects against. It is simply a probability that you will. Nevertheless, this risk is generally considered to be minimal. In fact, the side effects of vaccinations are generally mild and manageable. However, there are exceptions to this rule. As previously stated, people who have severe allergies or reactions to vaccines generally shouldn’t get them.

Additionally, getting a flu shot every year can cause you to become immune to the virus. This means that even if you are exposed to the virus, your body will be unable to mount an effective immune response. Ultimately, this could leave you susceptible to infection, particularly if you are already at high risk of complications from the flu. This is why the CDC cautions that although annual flu shots are generally safe and effective, they shouldn’t be taken by everyone.

With all of this being said, getting vaccinated doesn’t come without its risks. If you decide that it’s worth the rewards, then by all means get your kids’ vaccinations organized as soon as possible.