Immunizing your child is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to keep them safe and healthy. Immunizations prevent complications, disability, hospitalization, and death from disease. Scientific research consistently supports vaccine safety and effectiveness. This research has repeatedly shown that there is no established link between vaccines and children's chronic health issues. Due to the success of immunizations, there are significantly fewer cases of deadly disease than ever before.
Despite the proven success of immunizations, several myths surrounding the safety and effectiveness of immunizations have arisen. Here are seven myths about vaccines and the evidence explaining why they are false.
Fact: Childhood vaccines have a very high success rate and millions of children have been protected against deadly diseases because they were immunized. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), studies show that most childhood vaccines are 90% to 99% effective in preventing serious illnesses. If a vaccinated child is exposed to disease, they are unlikely to contract it and if they do get the disease, the symptoms are usually milder and present fewer complications than in a child who hasn’t been vaccinated.
Occasionally, a child gets exposed to a disease just before being vaccinated and becomes ill before the vaccine has had a chance to create immunity. This sometimes happens with the flu vaccine. Additionally, many viruses cause similar symptoms of the flu, and the flu vaccine doesn’t create immunity to these viruses.
For more information on understanding how vaccines work, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Fact: It is extremely unlikely that a vaccine would cause a disease. Inactivated, or killed, vaccines contain dead viruses or bacteria that can’t cause disease. Live vaccines may cause mild symptoms of the disease, but this isn’t harmful and demonstrates the vaccine is working. According to the CDC, live vaccines contain weakened viruses or bacteria that can not cause serious disease in people with healthy immune systems.
Fact: From the day a baby is born, they are exposed to thousands of germs every day – when they eat, play on the floor, or put a toy in their mouth. This is far more germs than a baby will ever get from vaccines. The job of the immune system is to process the germs we are exposed to, which strengthens our immune system over time. For more information on multiple vaccines and the immune system, visit the CDC website.
The advised vaccine schedule helps protect children when they are most vulnerable to the diseases vaccines prevent. According to the AAP, research has shown that side effects are not increased when vaccines are given together.
Fact: A child develops the same immunity following vaccination as it would following “natural” infection with a disease. The benefit of vaccines is that the child doesn’t have to get sick first in order to develop immunity.
Fact: Many deadly diseases are no longer common in the United States because of vaccines. However, the bacteria and viruses that cause those diseases still exist and can cause illness. Vaccines provide protection if a child is ever exposed to those bacteria and viruses.
Fact: The MMR vaccine does not cause autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The first dose of the MMR vaccine is given between 12 and 15 months of age and ASD is often diagnosed between 18 and 30 months of age. This timing has led some to believe that the MMR vaccine causes ASD. However, ASD starts before a baby is born and before the signs of developmental delays, usually around 2 years old, are apparent.
Other people think the MMR vaccine causes ASD because of a 1998 study published in the Lancet, which received significant publicity. The CDC reports that since being published, 10 of the 13 authors have withdrawn their support of the study, the lead author of the study was found guilty of professional misconduct, the Lancet retracted the 1998 article, and the lead author lost his license to practice medicine in the United Kingdom. According to the CDC, more than 20 reputable scientific studies have been completed comparing thousands of children and a relationship between the MMR vaccine and ASD has not been found.
For more information on the MMR vaccine, visit the CDC website.
Fact: Some parents question the need for a yearly influenza (flu) vaccine, or do not view the flu as a serious disease. The flu is a serious illness with potentially serious complications. Millions of people are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands of people die from flu every year in our country. This includes previously healthy people, including children.
Flu vaccines are necessary every year because flu viruses change from year to year. A flu vaccine that protects against flu viruses circulating this flu season may not protect against the flu viruses circulating next flu season.
The doctors at Allegro Pediatrics know that vaccines, or immunizations, save lives. Immunizations are an important part of routine check-ups, and the recommended vaccination schedule is coordinated with these visits. Our doctors are committed to discussing vaccinations and preserving relationships with families.