5 Myths About Vaccines
This is the second post in a series about vaccination. In the first post I explained why I believe in global vaccination. In this post I describe several common myths about vaccines that may prevent people from vaccinating their children.
1) Vaccines cause autism. As mentioned in my other post, no link between autism and vaccines has ever been found, despite multiple studies in many countries. The original article that suggested a link between autism and one vaccine was retracted due to dishonesty and falsification of data by the scientist/doctor that reported the study.
2) The flu shot gave me the flu. People tell me all the time that when they got the flu shot it gave them the flu. There is no way the flu shot can give anyone the flu. The flu shot is not a live vaccine – it has parts of flu proteins in it, but it is not infectious. Like any vaccine, the flu shot can give you side effects, such as fever and fatigue, because it is stimulating your immune response, but it is not the flu.
3) Childhood vaccines are dangerous because they contain mercury. Thimerosal is a mercury-containing compound that is used as a preservative in vaccines. It is used in vaccines to prevent contamination and growth of bacteria and fungus in multi-dose vials. Some types of mercury-containing compounds can damage the nervous system. Although no studies show that thimerosal in vaccines causes damage to children, thimerosal has been removed from all childhood vaccines given to children <6 years of age in the US, with the exception of the flu vaccine. Thimerosal is still used in vaccines in other countries where multi-dose vials are critical to successful vaccination programs.
4) It is bad for kids to receive so many vaccines at one time. Parents are often concerned about the vaccine schedule – sometimes they are concerned about children receiving vaccine combinations or they are concerned about the number of vaccines given during the first few years of life. However, neither of these concerns have been upheld. Studies conducted by the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics have shown that combination vaccines are just as effective as single vaccines, do not increase the number of side effects and do not change the normal childhood immune system.
5) My kids do not need to be vaccinated because the diseases are no longer in our country. I find this kind of thinking particularly dangerous. In the US we are very lucky that most serious childhood illnesses have been reduced to very low levels due to vaccination. However some of these diseases still circulate freely in other parts of the world and can be brought into the US. Further, these diseases can easily become an epidemic in the US if there are large numbers of unvaccinated people. By vaccinating our kids we directly protect them from disease and indirectly protect the people around them by preventing spread of disease.