During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is incredibly important to keep your children up to date with their scheduled vaccinations. We understand that as parents you strive to make the best choices for your child’s health. However, there is a lot of misinformation circulating that can create confusion. To make sure you have accurate information, here are five common misconceptions about vaccines debunked.
Myth 1: Vaccines cause autism.
This is arguably the most popular misconception about vaccines. This myth is based on an article published by Andrew Wakefield in 1998 claiming that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This article has since been retracted by 10 out 13 of Wakefield’s coauthors after many studies went on to prove that there was no evidence that suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine due to the fraudulent claims he made in this article by misrepresenting data. It was also later discovered the author had undisclosed financial incentives. To learn more, visit the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center.
Myth 2: Vaccines have harmful toxins in them.
A common misconception about vaccines is that chemicals they contain are harmful to the body. While vaccines do contain additives like formaldehyde, the amount is very small and approved by the FDA. Vaccines only contain trace amounts necessary for inactivating the virus within the vaccine. In fact, the metabolic system creates more formaldehyde naturally than found in vaccines.
Myth 3: Vaccines can cause the disease it’s trying to prevent.
Often, people are misled into thinking that because a vaccine contains a virus, it could potentially infect them. This can lead people to believe that their side effects are symptoms of the virus. Vaccines contain the inactive or weakened virus in order to create antibodies that protect against the virus without infection. Vaccines also go through rigorous testing and research before being made available to the public. It is normal to experience side effects. Consult your primary care provider if you are concerned about your side effects.
Myth 4: Diseases vaccines prevent aren’t around anymore.
While it is true that rates for certain diseases have decreased significantly in the 21st century, it is still important to get vaccinated. Low rates of diseases like smallpox, measles, and whooping cough, are due to high rates of vaccination that led to the protection of those who did not get vaccinated. This is called herd immunity and it works by vaccinating the majority of a population. When we opt out of vaccines, herd immunity weakens and could lead to an outbreak in rare diseases. In recent history, there have been outbreaks of measles in places like New York because of a lack of vaccination.
Myth 5: Infant immune systems can’t handle vaccinations.
Infant immune systems are actually stronger than commonly thought. They are exposed to more germs on a daily basis than the small amount in a vaccine. In fact, infants would only utilize about 0.1% of their immune system if given all 14 vaccinations at the same time.
For more information on specific vaccines, please visit the Immunization Action Coalition at this link.
Brown, Ari. “Clear Answers and Smart Advice About Your Baby’s Shots.” Immunization Action Coalition, Immunization Action Coalition, www.immunize.org/catg.d/p2068.pdf.
Clift, Kathy PA-C; Rizzolo, Denise PA-C, PhD Vaccine myths and misconceptions, Journal of the American Academy of PAs: August 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 8 - p 21-25doi:10.1097/01.JAA.0000451873.94189.56https://journals.lww.com/jaapa/fulltext/2014/08000/vaccine_myths_and_misconceptions.5.aspx
Slade, Renee. “7 Myths About Vaccines.” Rush University Medical Center, Rush University Medical Center, www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/7-vaccine-myths.
Writers, Staff. “Vaccine Myths Debunked.” PublicHealth.org, PublicHealth.org, 25 June 2020,www.publichealth.org/public-awareness/understanding-vaccines/vaccine-myths-debunked/.
Zucker, Jane R., et al. “Consequences of Undervaccination - Measles Outbreak, New York City, 2018–2019: NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, 12 Mar. 2020, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1912514.