By getting vaccines, children are protected against infections that cause serious illness or death. Plus, dangerous infections are prevented from spreading – when more children are unvaccinated, outbreaks tend to happen, like the pertussis and measles epidemics in recent years. When a majority of children are vaccinated, the diseases become rare 2 – it’s called herd immunity when the few unvaccinated people are kept healthy because of the majority of vaccinated people.
When formulating a vaccine decision, remember that all vaccines have side effects, just as all vaccine-preventable diseases also cause serious complications. There are incredible risks with both choices. There is no risk-free option. But a decision has to be made.
For parents who are undecided about vaccinating their children, it’s important to point out that a child is less likely to experience a serious side effect with a vaccine than if he or she would contract the actual disease. The major difference is that you’re willfully exposing your child to the toxin through a vaccine, instead of gambling on the unknown chance that he or she will be naturally exposed to the disease.
Unfortunately many rumors and myths about the safety of vaccines circulate, particularly on the Internet. Just Google “are vaccines dangerous?” and see if you don’t get completely freaked out. The danger is that many of these sources include unsubstantiated information. The research may not come from credible sources, or the information may just be very outdated.
Similar to the MMR vaccine and autism myth, the Institute of Medicine, the Vaccine Safety Datalink, and Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System all conducted separate studies and discovered there was no link between vaccines and SIDS. 3 There also is no proof that there’s a link between vaccines and cancer – just as many unvaccinated people get cancer as vaccinated people. 4
Another myth is that vaccines contain squalene, a component of vaccines that helps establish an immune response. (While it is rumored that squalene is potentially risky, clinical studies show that it is safe.)5 But squalene is not present in any vaccine in the United States – only in European vaccines.
An additional vaccine myth includes the aluminum content. While aluminum is used in vaccines, only four milligrams is given during the first six months of an infant’s life. Compare that to forty milligrams of aluminum found in milk-based formula and one hundred twenty milligrams of aluminum present in soy-based formula given to a baby during the first six months, and suddenly the content in vaccines doesn’t seem so alarming. 6
Tomorrow I’ll wrap up our vaccine week with a special Thursday edition – I’ll explore vaccines from a religious perspective. Finally, on Friday I’ll address mercury, its vaccine connection, and the role it plays in a person’s body burden.
1. “Adults urged to get flu, whooping cough vaccines to protect kids.” Liz Szabo. USA Today. Nov. 18, 2010. 2. “Common Questions Parents Ask About Infant Immunizations.” Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The Facts About Childhood Vaccines. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Vol. 6, Spring 2009.
“Top 20 Questions about Vaccination.” The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
“Why immunize?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3. “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4. “Top 20 Questions about Vaccination.” The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
5. “Squalene-based adjuvants in vaccines.” World Health Organization.
6. “The Facts About Childhood Vaccines.” The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Vol. 6, Spring 2009.
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