Myths and Facts About Vaccinations

Myths and Facts About Vaccinations

Vaccines stimulate the immune system to promote immunities to specific diseases. In 2018 alone, over 115 million children around the world were treated for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. 

And while vaccines are a common practice to help fight off viruses and disease, there’s controversy about their effectiveness and side effects. This has created a lot of confusion over what's true about vaccinations and what's false. It’s important to separate fact from fiction to ensure you’re making the best decisions for your health. 

Here are four examples of common vaccination myths:

Myth #1: You can get a disease from the vaccine

This idea usually comes from a misunderstanding of how vaccines work. Since vaccines contain an inactive strain of the virus or disease for treatment, some people think the vaccine will cause the disease. 

The truth is, vaccines contain a weak strain of the disease to train the immune system to more effectively fight that specific condition. Certain molecules from the pathogen (an organism that causes disease) are introduced to the body to trigger the body’s immune system to go to work. These molecules form the pathogen are called antigens and they help the body learn how to defend against viruses and disease.

Myth #2: Better hygiene is superior to vaccines

Some people think because we have better hygiene and nutrition than we did decades ago, we don’t need vaccines to help fight off diseases. The prevalence of antibiotics is also commonly used in this argument.

While we are healthier, that doesn’t necessarily mean we can fight off specific diseases in the way vaccines can. The measles vaccine is a common example used to refute this. 

Between 1963 and 2000, the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine helped eliminate the number of measles cases. No method of hygiene or diet has been as effective.

Obviously hygiene, nutrition, and sanitation are important but vaccines work as well, and there’s no reason to stop getting them.

Myth #3: Vaccines cause autism

This has been a common myth in recent years due to a now-discredited study published by Andrew Wakefield in 1997. This study claimed that vaccines were directly responsible for causing autism in children. Despite being disproved, there are still widespread movements against vaccines as a result.

Here are the facts: several studies have found that even among children more likely to get autism, there’s absolutely no link between vaccines (in this case the MMR vaccine) and autism. 

Vaccines that contain thimerosal are commonly attributed to claims of a link to autism. A CDC study in 2010 disproved any link.

Myth #4: Herd immunity means I don’t need vaccines

The idea here is if there's a large enough population of people with an immunity to a disease (the proverbial herd), the chances of catching that disease is low enough that you don’t need to be immunized for it. This is also referred to as community immunity.

And while it's true that community immunity can help keep a population healthy, not immunizing can slowly make the situation worse. Even if there's a large enough population of people with an immunity to a given disease, the more that people stop vaccinating for that disease, the greater the chance it'll worsen. So over time, you run the risk of more people being exposed and creating bigger problems for the community.

Don't hesitate when it comes to vaccinations. Make an appointment today with Dr. Veiseh to prevent viruses and diseases from complicating your life.

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