MYTHS ANF FACTS ABOUT VACCINATION
MYTH : Vaccines are not necessary if better hygiene and sanitation is maintained as it will make diseases disappear. FALSE
FACT : The diseases we can vaccinate against will return if we stop vaccination programs. Better hygiene, hand washing and clean water do help in protecting people from infectious diseases but many infections can spread in spite of one’s cleanliness. Diseases that have become uncommon, such as polio and measles, will quickly reappear if people aren’t vaccinated.
MYTH : Vaccination can be fatal because vaccines have several damaging and long-term side-effects that are yet unknown. FALSE
FACT : Vaccines are very safe and not at all harmful! Usually, vaccine reactions are minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever. Only in extreme rare cases does a very serious health event occur which are carefully monitored and investigated. The chances of getting seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease are higher than by a vaccine.
a. In the case of polio, the disease can cause paralysis.
b. Measles can cause encephalitis and blindness.
c. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can even result in death.
While any serious injury or death caused by vaccines is highly unlikely, the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risk, and many, many more injuries and deaths would occur without vaccines.
MYTH : A sudden infant death syndrome is caused due to combined vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) and the vaccine against poliomyelitis. FALSE
FACT : There is no causal link between the administering of the vaccines and sudden infant death. However, these vaccines are operated at a time when babies can suffer sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In other words, the SIDS deaths are co-incidental to vaccination and would have occurred nevertheless. It is important to remember that these four diseases that is diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and poliomyelitis are life-threatening and babies who are not vaccinated against them are at serious risk of death or severe disability.
MYTH : There is no need to get vaccinated as vaccine-preventable diseases are almost eradicated in my country. FALSE
FACT : The infectious agents that cause vaccine-preventable diseases continue to circulate in some parts of the world even though they have become uncommon in many countries. In a world that is highly inter-connected, such agents can cross geographical borders and infect the unprotected. Thus, two key reasons to get vaccinated are to protect ourselves and to protect those around us.
Successful vaccination programs, like successful societies, majorly depend on the cooperation of every individual to ensure the good of all.
MYTH : Vaccine-preventable childhood illnesses are nothing but an unfortunate fact of life. FALSE
FACT : Illnesses like measles, mumps and rubella can lead to grave complications in both children and adults, including pneumonia, encephalitis, blindness, diarrhea, ear infections, congenital rubella syndrome and death. All these diseases and suffering is preventable with the help of vaccines. If one gets vaccinated then vaccine preventable diseases do not have to be ‘facts of life’.
MYTH : By giving a child more than one vaccine at a time, there is an increased risk of harmful side-effects, which overload the child’s immune system. FALSE
FACT : Scientific evidence has proved that giving several vaccines at the same time does not have any adverse effect on a child’s immune system. Every day, children are subjected to several hundred foreign substances that trigger an immune response. The simplest of acts like eating food also introduces new antigens into the body, and numerous bacteria reside in the mouth and nose. It is a fact that a child is subjected to far more antigens from a common cold or sore throat than from vaccines.
Key advantages of having several vaccines at once are:
1. Fewer clinic visits which also saves time and money.
2. Children are more likely to complete the recommended vaccinations on schedule.
3. Also, having a combined vaccination like for measles, mumps and rubella results into fewer injections.
MYTH : The vaccine for Influenza isn’t very effective and Influenza is just a nuisance. FALSE
FACT : Influenza is a serious disease that takes the lives of 300 000-500 000 people around the world every year. Pregnant women, small children, elderly people with poor health and anyone with a chronic condition, like asthma or heart disease, are placed at a higher risk for severe infection and even death. Vaccinating pregnant women has the added benefit of protecting their newborns as there is currently no vaccine for babies less than six months.
Vaccination is the best way to lower your chances of getting severe flu and of spreading it to others. Avoiding the flu means avoiding extra medical care costs and lost income from missing days of work or school.
MYTH : Getting immunized through disease is better than through vaccination. FALSE
FACT : Vaccines interact with the immune system to cause an immune response very similar to that caused by the natural infection, but they do not trigger the disease or put the immunized person at risk of its potential complications. In contrast, there are massive implications for getting immunity through natural infection such as-
1. Mental retardation from Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).
2. Birth defects from rubella.
3. Liver cancer from hepatitis B virus.
4. Death from measles.
MYTH : Vaccines contain mercury and are very dangerous. FALSE
FACT : An organic, mercury-containing compound called Thiomersal is added to some vaccines as a preservative. It is the most widely-used preservative for vaccines that are provided in multi-dose vials. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the amount of Thiomersal used in vaccines pose to be a health risk.
MYTH : Vaccines cause autism. FALSE
FACT : A 1998 study which raised concerns about a probable link between measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism was later found to be seriously flawed, and the paper was retracted by the journal that published it. Unfortunately, the damage was already done as its publication set off a panic that led to dropping immunization rates, and subsequent outbreaks of these diseases. There is absolutely no evidence of a link between MMR vaccine and autism or autistic disorders.
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