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Did you have a bad day? Maybe you are a university student struggling with CGPA? Or a mom juggling her life between work and home? There are times you must feel like you’re the unluckiest person in the entire world. Imagine you are born in early 1900- A time when the mortality rate of babies is the same as the number of babies born. Mothers fear for their babies. There is no vaccine for the most common diseases. Tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, whooping cough and smallpox are four killers of children. Millions of babies die. You cannot think of even a 2-year future plan for a baby. This is how uncertain life was in the nineties.
Fast forward to 2020- A time where smallpox is an eradicated disease. There are vaccines for all the previous killers of children. The mortality rate due to infectious diseases is much reduced. You are alive and already have plans for life after retirement.
How lucky do you feel now?
Vaccines save lives.
And you’re proof of that. Immunization through vaccines is a miracle of science that is saving lives. We all remember ladies in abayas and bhurkas going from door to door offering polio drops. Smallpox is eradicated worldwide. Would you believe it if I told you that there are still millions of people who are against vaccines? Recent news at The Guardian talked about how a mother lost her four-year-old boy when she followed the advice of anti-vaxxers and refused the doctor’s medication for Tamiflu for the boy.
19.4 million babies were not vaccinated against infectious diseases in 2018 according to World Health Organization (WHO). One of the reasons is the group of ‘anti-vaxxers.’ Anti-vaxxer is a term for people who do not support vaccination. They do not get vaccinated. Anti-vaxxers do not vaccinate their kids either. They claim that vaccines are dangerous and that they do not need them.
This article combines their beliefs and busting common myths and facts about vaccines with backed-up scientific facts and statistics.
Related: 4 Vaccine Preventable Diseases
Common Myths and Facts about Vaccines:
Myth #1: Vaccines cause autism and sudden infant death syndrome.
“Vaccine causes autism,” is one of the most common myths I have heard. Some people also claim that SIDS is caused by vaccines too. SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is when a healthy baby dies due to an unexplained reason. There is no scientific research that proves that vaccines cause autism. There was a single study in 1998 which gave rise to concerns about a link between MMR vaccine and autism. MMR vaccine is measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.
However, in the later years, it was discovered that the study was greatly flawed. The study was rejected due to bad science. The British author himself was removed from the medical board, and he was not allowed to practice medicine any longer in the UK. Many studies are still ongoing on the same theme. There is absolutely no evidence that supports the claim that autism is caused by vaccines.
As for SIDS, vaccines were usually administered during SIDS. Vaccines given during SIDs will not prevent an inevitable death. It is just a coincidence shaped into a myth.
Myth #2: Vaccines are dangerous.
People believe vaccines are dangerous. They refuse typhoid vaccines, pneumococcal vaccines and other attenuated vaccines. Parents believe that multiple vaccines in a short time can overwhelm the immune system. According to them, vaccines are aggressive. Anti-vaxxers believe that their children can get disease they are being vaccinated against. They also claim that vaccinations have high amount of dangerous toxins and substances, such as mercury and aluminium.
Mercury and aluminium are both dangerous for the body in high concentrations only. The amount in vaccines is negligible and is hardly any higher than the amount we eat in food daily.
Vaccines are administered carefully in a short time often altogether, so the baby is immune to deadly infectious diseases before he is exposed to them. A pediatrician knows better how many vaccines a baby can take at a single time.
Vaccines do not cause disease. However, vaccines can promote the visibility and appearance of symptoms of the disease. This is because the virus is still alive in its weak form.
Myth #3: Diseases are a natural part of childhood. Live with it.
Diseases are a painful part of every child’s life. However, that does not mean that you should live with it. The diseases babies get vaccinated against are one of the deadliest and serious diseases in history. DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) have killed millions.
Anti-vaxxers argue that natural immunity is better than induced immunity. They believe that breastmilk and clean environment is enough for the baby.
Breastfeeding and a healthy lifestyle are great for a baby. Natural immunity is indeed better. However, it is true only for less serious diseases. Vaccines are created only for lethal diseases. Tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, whooping cough and smallpox have killed thousands of children. You should not risk the life of a child, especially if there is a way to save it. There are DTP vaccines now. These have decreased the mortality rates as well.
Many vaccinated people still get the disease.
The effect of vaccines diminishes over time. Some vaccines can last for a lifetime. Other vaccines last for years only. The reason why vaccinated people contract a disease is not one. However, if a disease returns, then it is less severe than how it would have been originally if the person wouldn’t be vaccinated. There is no relation of vaccines causing the disease again.
Myth #4: There is no need for vaccines.
One more among the common myths and facts about vaccines and immunization is that people believe that if a disease is eradicated from their country, then they do not need the vaccine anymore. This is wrong. A disease might no longer be in your country, but it still exists in other parts. It puts the person in danger of contracting it in the future. Furthermore, he can spread it to others. Adults and babies both need vaccines. Pneumococcal vaccines and shingles vaccines are recommended for people above 60.
Myth #5: Vaccines are bad for pregnancy.
Vaccines are not bad for pregnancy. If you are planning to get pregnant, then there are certain vaccines you should get before trying. There are also some vaccines doctors do not recommend mothers to take during pregnancy. Not all vaccines are bad to get during pregnancy. Your gynecologist will guide you better about it.
Myth #6: Vaccinated kids are more prone to allergies.
Another in the myths and facts list about vaccines is that vaccinated kids are more sensitive to allergies and reactions. Quoting from WHO poster on facts about immunization, “Vaccines teach our immune system to react to certain antigens. They do not change the way it works.” There is no connection between vaccination and allergic, autoimmune diseases so far.
These were the common myths and facts about vaccines. There are many doctors that offer vaccination services for children. There are many doctors onboard with Marham who can vaccinate your kids. You can easily find and contact a doctor and ensure the safety of your child today. Healthy and safe kids, a healthier and safer future!