No one can deny that vaccines have prevented tens of millions of people from getting some of the worst diseases known to man. In 2011 it was reported that polio has practically been eradicated in India. That fact alone is simply amazing. In fact since 1988 polio cases have dropped by 99.9% thanks to vaccines. Are vaccines a cure all? No. The following 12 secrets about vaccines will shed a light on the risk versus rewards of vaccines.
Bill Gates has not killed, paralyzed or forced children at gunpoint to get vaccines
Does this seem like an odd secret to start with? Yeah, I think so too, but with all the misinformation out there about the amazing work the Gates Foundation is doing in Africa and India I thought that we should start here.
He discovered and developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine. Until 1957, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered one of the most frightening public health problems in the world. In the postwar United States, annual epidemics were increasingly devastating. The 1952 U.S. epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation’s history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis, with most of its victims being children.
Some vaccines contain mercury
Thimerosal, a preservative containing about 50% mercury, prevents contamination by bacteria. It can be found in most flu shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, since 2001, thimerosal has not been present in routine vaccines for children younger than 6. And, both the flu shot and some vaccines for adults and older children can be found in thimerosal-free versions, or with only trace amounts.
A small 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield claimed to find a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, setting off a panic that led to dropping immunization rates, and subsequent outbreaks. Since then, the study’s been deemed flawed, and it’s been retracted by the journal that published it. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine released a report that found no scientific evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. In September 2010, the CDC published similar results. So, should you trust the a discredit researcher and an ex-playboy model with the health of your child? Probably not. Even Jenny McCarthy has back-pedaled on the issue.
Vaccines can have some side effects
Vaccines are not risk free. The most common side effects are soreness at the injection site and fever, which are best treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Less common are seizures and risks vary depending on the vaccine. For example, 1 in 14,000 children suffer a seizure after receiving the DTaP shot; it’s 1 in 3,000 with the MMR vaccine.
You’re not necessarily safe if everyone else is vaccinated
Often, like-minded unvaccinated families by choice attend the same preschools, playgroups, and schools, thus making it very easy for vaccine-preventable diseases to spread.
The outbreaks in San Diego and Boulder are example of this. And some people can’t be vaccinated due to health or age restrictions. Plus, you can catch some germs, like tetanus and hepatitis A, from contaminated soil or food, not another person.
Vaccines do not guarantee protection
Vaccines are not a 100% guarantee you won’t get sick. But they are a huge help. Take the flu vaccine; you may still get the flu if you get the shot, but it is likely to be less severe. The chicken pox vaccine is 80% effective against preventing infection and 100% effective in protecting against serious illness. For the best protection, experts rely on “herd immunity”—the more people who are vaccinated in the population, the better chances of protecting everyone, including people who can’t get shots due to age, health, or religious reasons.
Too many shots do not weaken the immune system
Each dose allows the body to mount an immune response and make defense (antibodies) so the body can fight off a real infection if it showed up. Children are given multiple vaccinations at a time to provide as much protection as early as possible. Both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that vaccinations be given to children simultaneously when appropriate.
Vaccines are not just for kids
There are numerous vaccines that can help keep adolescents and adults, both young and old, healthy. Most obvious is the flu shot, which is given annually. College students should get a meningitis vaccine before living in a dorm, and elderly adults can benefit from pneumonia vaccines. Adults also need boosters for tetanus and pertussis. Children aren’t fully immunized against pertussis until age 4. Smaller babies are at high risk, and pertussis can be transmitted to babies by adults with waning immunity.
The HPV shot is not just for girls
There are two HPV vaccines: Cervarix, for girls and women 10 to 25, and Gardasil, for females 9 to 26. But Gardasil can also be given to boys and men between ages 9 to 26, according to the CDC. Gardasil protects against types 6 and 11 of human papillomavirus, which cause about 90% of all genital warts. According to the CDC, approximately 500,000 cases of genital warts occur each year in the United States.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, pregnant women should not be given vaccines for varicella (chicken pox) or MMR. But the inactivated flu vaccine is safe and even recommended for pregnant women. During pregnancy, women’s immune systems are compromised, making them more susceptible to infection.
Natural immunity is better
Infections are more likely than vaccines to trigger lifelong immunity. An exception is the flu; it changes strains every year. But you may think twice about taking your little one to a chicken pox party. The problem with natural immunity is the risk of complications. Chicken pox can lead to encephalitis, pneumonia, or, if kids scratch too much, skin infections like MRSA. A polio infection can cause permanent paralysis; mumps, deafness; andHaemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), brain damage.
Vaccines are still necessary even if a disease has been eradicated
The only infectious human disease that has been eradicated worldwide is smallpox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Even today there are outbreaks of conditions like measles, mumps, and pertussis. Vaccines can protect you when you’re around those who aren’t vaccinated, either in the U.S or elsewhere. According to the WHO, less than 95% of people in many parts of Western Europe receive vaccines, and that’s where 82% of measles cases occurred in 2009.