Posted By Wendy Boulay
The Importance of Vaccines
There has been a growing debate over the last few years, both online and in social media, as well as in general every day discussions, that vaccinating may not be a healthy option for you or your child. This choice however, is often reached without having the solid facts about the risks that are involved.
The Myths and Facts
Many parents have grown fearful of potential health hazards that vaccines might carry. Below are some of the most common myths that have either been scientifically de-bunked or unable to prove.
Myth #1 – MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) Can Cause Autism: In short, the answer is no. A study by Andrew Wakefield was performed in 1998 and was published stating that the MMR vaccine can cause autism. This paper was seriously flawed, however, and was inevitably retracted by the journal that published it. Sadly, panic arose from the original publication that led to a drastic drop in vaccination rates, resulting in outbreaks of the MMR diseases. Many studies involving millions of children worldwide have since been performed and there is no evidence that has been found that links the MMR vaccine to autism or its related disorders. Wakefield has since lost his medical license, and other scientists have failed to replicate his findings. Later, it was stated that Wakefield originally wrote the paper with a potential impact that would benefit him in legal matters.
Myth #2 – Vaccines Contain Dangerous Mercury: While Thiomersal is an ingredient used as a preservative in some vaccines, it is an organic mercury containing compound. In Canada (and since 2001 in the United States) this compound in NOT used in the routinely recommended childhood vaccines, with the exception of influenza. There is no convincing evidence that this compound poses any harm at the reduced amount that it is now used at.
Myth #3 – No Vaccine Is As Powerful As “Natural Immunity” – This could be true, but bear in mind that in order to be “naturally vaccinated” against a disease, a person must contract that disease. This could be potentially dangerous or life-threatening as some children and adults may not be able to recover completely from the contracted disease. An example of this might leave your infant with birth defects after contracting rubella, or becoming diagnosed with liver cancer from the Hepatitis B virus, or worse, death from contracting the measles. In 2010, an outbreak of the whooping cough emerged in California. It was spread by the unvaccinated children with an outcome of 9,120 infected with the disease, and sadly resulting in 10 infant deaths.
Myth #4 – Vaccines Can Deliver Dangerous Side Effects: Dangerous, no, not usually…but some mild side effects are most definitely true. Most side effects that do occur after receiving a vaccine are: sore arm and redness at the injection point, and/or a mild fever; both of which can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Some children pose a higher risk for certain side effects, such as children with immune-disorders or other conditions. You can speak with your doctor about side effects for individual vaccines. Regardless, the side effects of receiving a vaccine ultimately are a very small price to pay for the risks associated with contracting the disease they are preventing.
The benefits of vaccinating your child could potentially be a life-saving decision. Help protect your child and those around you. Speak to your doctor about what vaccines are right for your and your family. You can also refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s “Canadian Immunization Guide” for more information.