The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that vaccinations have helped protect children from infectious diseases such as measles and mumps for many years and may be responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives in the US.
However, some parents still believe that vaccines cause more harm than benefit to children. The question is: are there concerns accurate? Can vaccines make children sick? Are the children better off not being vaccinated?
The following is an overview of the four most common myths about vaccines:
Myth 1. Vaccines cause autism
In 1998 a study was published that claimed that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is linked to autism. Children generally receive the MMR vaccine at 12 months and again at 4 years of age.
Since then, the findings of that study have been debunked and many other studies have found no connection between autism and vaccines. A vast majority of medical experts believe that vaccines are not linked to autism. However, people continue to associate the two. As Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital explains, signs and symptoms of autism are usually demonstrated at the same time when the MMR vaccine is administered. That is why people tend to link the two even though there is no evidence to prove any link between the two.
Myth 2. Vaccines should be spaced out to increase safety
As per the CDC’s vaccination schedule, children receive most vaccines at a young age. Some people have expressed concerns that so many vaccines at such an early age could overwhelm a child’s immune system. They feel that these vaccines should be spaced out to ensure the child’s safety. However, Wilbert Van Panhuis, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh disagrees with this theory. He says that the schedule is based on disease risks and the effectiveness of the vaccines at specific ages and how they may interact with each other. Mixing this up or altering this schedule could be dangerous for children.
Myth 3. Vaccines can make people sick
This is the most common sentiment expressed whenever the flu vaccine is discussed. Many doctors have reported that their patients often complain that as soon as they get the flu shot, they get sick. But as Pedro Piedra, a professor of molecular virology and microbiology and of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine explains, the flu shot does not cause the flu and getting sick after the flu shot may just be a coincidence. He does acknowledge that the flu shot can sometimes spark flu some flu-like symptoms but that is only the vaccine building immunity. In other words, no vaccine can ever cause the illness it protects against. They may have some mild side effects but they definitely do not make anybody “sick”.
Myth 4. Vaccines contain harmful chemicals
There have also been concerns regarding the presence of formaldehyde or mercury in some vaccines. The FDA, however, has clearly stated that the quantity of formaldehyde in a vaccine is much smaller than the amount our body produces naturally. In addition, flu vaccines contain ethylmercury which is very different from methylmercury. Methylmercury is toxic but ethylmercury poses no danger and leaves our body within a few days. These substances are thus not harmful to anyone unless they are specifically allergic to the ingredients.