Vaccines saved more lives and prevented more suffering than virtually any other medical intervention, but there are still many myths about them floating around out there. In fact, we’ve been hearing these myths since the first vaccines were introduced over 200 years ago. So let’s clear up some common misconceptions!
Vaccines contain harmful ingredients
It’s true that vaccines contain small amounts of the harmful virus or bacteria they are designed to protect you against. However, this does not mean that vaccines are dangerous or harmful. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: A vaccine contains a dead or weakened form of the virus or bacteria so your body can learn how to fight it off, but it doesn’t actually cause illness.
If you’re concerned about what’s in vaccines, consider this: Vaccines do not contain any mercury (thimerosal), aluminum or formaldehyde—all three of which have been shown to be safe at normal levels when injected into people and animals. Furthermore, no evidence has ever linked these chemicals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
If a vaccine works, you don’t need your next shot.
The idea that vaccines are only good for one dose is another myth. That’s not true at all! You can get as many doses as you want and still be protected from the disease. In fact, some vaccinations require multiple doses over time to build up enough protection in your body—the chicken pox vaccine is one of these examples. But other vaccines, such as tetanus or pertussis (whooping cough) may only require one shot, but if you’re ever exposed to that disease again—even after getting that vaccination—you need another dose to stay safe!
The second myth is that if a vaccine works, you don’t need your next shot. This isn’t true either! Vaccines work best when given in full series: sometimes it takes more than just one dose to build up enough immunity against a certain illness so keep following up on your vaccination schedule even if your first shots worked great!
Some vaccines are safer than others
There is no such thing as a “safer vaccine.” All vaccines are tested for safety before they’re given to people, and they have been found to be safe. They don’t cause autism or any other health problems. Some people worry that getting vaccinated can overwhelm their immune system and lead to other illnesses, but this isn’t true. Vaccines contain only tiny amounts of antigens—not enough to overwhelm anyone’s immune system.
Diseases that don’t kill also don’t matter (such as measles and mumps)
It’s important to remember that measles and mumps are serious diseases that can cause severe illness, hospitalization, brain inflammation and death. The measles virus is so infectious that if one person has it in an enclosed space, it is likely that 90 percent of the people around them will also become infected. Mumps can also lead to sterility or deafness.
Diseases from the vaccines
- Vaccines are not made from the actual disease-causing microorganisms. Instead, they contain proteins or single molecules that trigger a person’s immune system to fight off the actual pathogen.
- The vaccines you get are very different from the version of these microbes that cause disease in people: in some cases, they have been altered so much that they cannot replicate outside of a laboratory setting; in other cases, they don’t even resemble their natural counterparts anymore. In addition to this, many vaccines are administered multiple times over several years so as to build up an infant’s or young child’s immune system before he or she encounters real pathogens.
Vaccines can expire
This is a myth, and it’s one that’s causing people to skip their shots.
The myth goes that a vaccine has an expiration date on it and that if you don’t use it by this date, it will lose its effectiveness. The truth is that no vaccines have expiration dates on them at all — they all have “use by” dates instead. These are not supposed to be used as expiration dates because they’re only meant to indicate when the vaccine is still good for use in humans. In fact, some vaccines can be stored in quality vaccine fridge for years after their use-by date without losing any effectiveness at all.
The flu shot gives you the flu
The flu shot is the best way to reduce the risk of getting sick with the flu. The vaccine contains inactivated or weakened viruses that cannot cause disease, but help your body build immunity to them. So when you get sick with the flu, it’s not because you got a flu shot.
Supporting the immune system naturally is a better alternative to vaccination
Many people believe that supporting the body’s natural immune system is a better alternative to vaccines. But there are several problems with this idea. Firstly, the natural immune system takes longer to develop and is therefore less effective than vaccination in children and adults whose bodies aren’t able to mount a response on their own.
Secondly, it can take weeks for the immune system to create antibodies after exposure (usually via infection), whereas vaccines trigger an immediate response from vaccinated individuals who then produce antibodies before they’re even exposed. This means that you need to be vaccinated every time you plan on traveling abroad—or better yet, just stay at home!
It’s better to wait to get vaccines for your child until he or she is older and stronger
It’s never too early to start vaccinating your baby. In fact, if you wait until your child is 12 months old, he or she may need two doses of each vaccine instead of one. So even though it might seem like the most convenient thing to do for everyone involved, it’s actually better for everyone if you don’t wait as long as possible to get vaccines for your child.
For example, who wants a sick kid? Who wants a grouchy toddler? Who wants an upset parent who can’t handle childcare while they’re at work? Nobody! If you bring up your concerns with doctors or medical professionals about whether or not you should wait until later before getting vaccines because they might be more effective then (or “less risky”), they’ll probably just tell you that delaying them isn’t worth the risk.
Vaccines aren’t necessary because we live in a safe world where disease has been eradicated
Disease is still out there, and vaccines are still needed to keep us safe. Diseases like polio still exist in some parts of the world — and if we stop vaccinating against them, they could come back here too.
It’s important to stop believing these myths so that you can prevent illness in your family and community.