To immunize or not to immunize, THAT is the question! From homeopathic hipsters to raw-milk moms, everybody’s talking about this issue. It’s not a new issue per se, but due to the recent outbreak of measles, it seems we can’t stop debating whether or not immunizations are a good idea.
But before we get to some myths about immunizations, let’s mention a few facts. Yes, immunizations can have horrific, sometimes life-changing side effects. And yes, child immunizations are akin to shooting babies full of mini-diseases.
So do the risks outweigh the benefits? Should we stop immunizing our children altogether? What if rather than giving our kids no vaccines, we figured out a way to give smaller, safer doses in increments, or delay some shots until our infants become toddlers? Should we consider an alternative way to administer certain immunizations, rather than simply abandon them altogether?
I believe the answer to that question is a resounding “yes,” because many of society’s fears about vaccines are actually based on these 5 myths about immunizations:
1. Vaccines contain dangerous levels of mercury.
While some vaccines do contain thiomersal (a preserving agent), the amount of mercury in thiomersal has not been shown to pose any serious health risks. Additionally, since 2001, thiomersal has not been present in routine vaccinations for children under the age of 6 aside from the flu shot.
2. Vaccines cause autism.
In 1998, a British doctor, Andrew Wakefield, published a study in which he proposed a possible link between autism and the Mumps-Measles-Rubella (MMR) vaccine. That study has since been debunked, the medical journal which published it retracted the article, and Dr. Wakefield subsequently lost his medical license on allegations of professional misconduct. Boom.
3. There’s no risk in not getting vaccinated in a first world country.
In our sheltered world known as “America,” where deadly diseases are seemingly rare, it seems we’d be safe living a vaccine-free life. But what if, one day, your child decides to study abroad? What if they decide to take a humanitarian trip to Africa? Or, heaven forbid, what if an outbreak of the measles or some other disease rips through the United States?
4. Doctors are paid extra to administer vaccines.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t like going to the doctor. So when a rumor comes along that doctors are paid big bonuses by drug companies for every harmful vaccine they administer to our kids, we believe it. But it’s simply not true.
5. Natural immunity is best!
This isn’t so much a myth as it is misleading. Yes, having chicken pocks is more effective than the chickenpox vaccine. And yes, having polio is a more effective measure to preventing future polio than the polio vaccine. That said, chicken pox can lead to encephalitis, pneumonia, or, even MRSA. A polio infection can cause permanent paralysis, mumps, deafness, and brain damage. Sure, having these diseases is a better guarantee of lifelong immunity than their vaccines, but the vaccines come with far less risk than the diseases!
What do you think? More risky to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? Sound off in the comments below!