There are a lot of facts and rumors about vaccines floating around, but what exactly is the truth? This article will take a look into the truths and myths of vaccines.
Myth: Getting So Many Vaccinations Will Overwhelm a Child’s Immune System
Children have an incredible ability to respond safely to any challenges presented to their immune system by vaccines. From the moment a baby is born, their immune systems face constant attack from bacteria in their food, in the air they breathe, and everything else in their environment. When compared to everything babies are exposed to, vaccines are a mere drop of water in an ocean. There’s nothing bad about giving a child multiple vaccine shots, and vaccines are just as effective taken together as they are taken individually.
Truth: Some Vaccines Contain Mercury
A number of vaccines, biological and drug products contain a preservative called thimersol. Thimersol is a mercury containing organic compound, and it’s purpose is to keep the vaccine from getting contaminated by bacteria. Despite being far below the EPA’s strictest pubic safety limits, the mercury present in thimersol had become a concern with the growing number vaccinations for infants. To be safe, thimersol has not been present in routine vaccinations for children six and under since 1999. However if you’re still worried, you can always ask your doctor for thimersol-free vaccinations.
Myth: There’s No Need For Vaccines Because Most Major Diseases Have Been Eliminated
Despite the U.S’s high vaccination rate, there are still many communities in America that succumb to diseases like the measles. Those who are unvaccinated make it much easier for diseases to spread and infect the population, which is why problems like the measles outbreak at Disney occur. Also diseases can be brought into the country by infected travelers from other countries.
Truth: Vaccines Have Side Effects
Vaccines aren’t perfect and they can come with side effects such as soreness in the area of the injection and fever. In rare cases, certain vaccines (like the DTaP shot) have a 1 in 14,000 chance to cause seizures in some people.
Myth: My Child Should Be Safe If Everyone Else is Vaccinated
That’s a big ‘if’ you’re gambling on if that’s what you believe. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that your children attend school with children who also have parents who think that way, this can greatly increase the possibility of spreading vaccine-preventable diseases.
Truth: Vaccines Don’t Provide 100% Protection
There’s no guarantee that you won’t get sick after getting immunized, but if you do get sick, your illness will most likely be less severe than if you didn’t get immunized. Vaccines made with live but weakened viruses like chicken pox are about 95% effective while vaccines with dead viruses are about 75-80% effective. It’s important to remember that vaccines work best when everybody is vaccinated.
Myth: Vaccines Cause Autism
A small study in 1998 claimed it found a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. When this study, conducted by Andrew Wakefield, reached the public, panic began and immunization rates decreased while outbreaks increased. The report was later discredited and retracted from the journal that published it since the study was flawed. Studies conducted only a few years later not only found no scientific evidence for a link between vaccines and autism, but it also found scientific evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism.
Truth: Pregnant Women Can Get Vaccinations
This is mostly true. It’s safe for pregnant women to get immunizations like the flu vaccine, but these women should not be given the chicken pox or MMR vaccine. When pregnant, a woman’s immune system becomes compromised, but a flu shot will help trigger the mother’s antibody production which will also protect her baby for the first six months of it’s life.
Myth: Doctors Make Money Off of Vaccinations
Because vaccines are so labor intensive, they’re actually considered money losers rather than money makers. In fact, they make so little profit that over three decades the number of pharmaceutical companies that make them dropped from 30 to five. While some doctors do receive financial incentives from HMOs, the bonuses are there to help justify the manpower that goes into delivering vaccines.
Truth: Natural Immunity is Better
Actual infections are more likely than vaccines to create lifelong immunity, but it’s a bit of a double edged sword. While it’s more likely to build lifelong immunity doing it naturally, it’s also much more dangerous due the risk of complications. For instance, naturally getting infected with something like chicken pox can create skin infections like MSRA if a child scratches too much.