Myths about Vaccinations

By Michael Galvan | 02/25/2016

One of the dangerous aspects of social media and the news is that rumors and myths have the opportunity to become more pervasive than ever before. A glut of misinformation has created one of the most potentially harmful trends over the past few years, the anti-­­­vaccination movement. What is so scary about this body of pseudoscience is its potential to hurt millions of children whose parents are buying into disproven theories and celebrity gossip.

For example, measles was considered eradicated in the United States in 2000. Yet today, the disease is back. A recent outbreak was linked to a Disneyland theme park in southern California from several children who were unvaccinated.1 Measles is a debilitating disease that can lead to rash, diarrhea, blindness, inflammation of the brain, and even death.2

Vaccinations have been around so long that many people have forgotten about the horrific outbreaks that used occur. At one point in New England, an outbreak of small pox is estimated to have killed nearly 20 million people.3

Here are the top 5 myths about vaccinations, debunked.

1. Vaccinations cause autism.

The idea that vaccines are linked to autism comes from a single study conducted by a UK scientist in 1998. This study has been proven false several times. After further clinical studies, the original finding was thrown out and the medical journal retracted the article. The physician who conducted the study was found to have lied and had unethical financial interests in the findings. He was eventually stripped of his license to practice medicine.4 The entire affair was later called an elaborate fraud.

2. Ingredients in vaccinations are toxic.

Any pharmacist will tell you that the dose of any ingredient determines its toxicity. Most ingredients in vaccinations are safe even at much larger doses. The few that might be toxic at much higher doses are only present in microscopic amounts. These ingredients are also found in dozens of everyday products.

Here are four ingredients commonly present in vaccinations that are falsely equated with being harmful.

Aluminum

The average person consumes anywhere from 30 to 50 mg of aluminum every day from drinking water, food and medicine. Not all vaccines contain aluminum, but those that do typically contain about .125 mg to .625 mg per dose, or roughly 1% of the daily average.5

Mercury

Babies are commonly exposed to mercury in breast milk.5 Even so; the amount in a typical vaccination is only present in small trace amounts. The mercury in vaccinations is also made from ethyl mercury which is non-toxic.

Thimerosal

Thimerosal is a preservative that was present in vaccines until 2001. Several separate studies have failed to find a link between thimerosal and autism, 6 and it was removed from most vaccines in 2001.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is commonly found in automobile exhaust, carpets, fingernail polish, paint, cough drops, grocery bags, papers towels, mouthwash, and markers. During the vaccine process, formaldehyde is used to inactivate the live virus.7 Only tiny traces remain, and what does end up in the vaccine is a microscopic amount compared to the daily exposure of the average US citizen.

3. Too many vaccines will overload my child’s immune system.

A pediatric study concluded that this hypothesis is untrue. In fact, infants have an “enormous capacity to respond to multiple vaccines, as well as to the many other challenges present in the environment.”8 Spacing out vaccinations is a bad idea. In between shots, children are left exposed to illness. The vaccination schedule developed by the CDC is based on research to try and protect as many children as possible.

4. Most major illnesses have been defeated, so vaccines are pointless.

Despite the relatively high vaccination rates in the United Sates, outbreaks can still occur. Unvaccinated children are also likely to pass on disease to segments of the population less able to fight sicknesses, like babies and the elderly. World travel has also greatly increased risk of infection from people who were born in countries without immunization requirements.

5. Vaccines have bad side effects.

The most common side effects of vaccines are pain, swelling, and redness where the shot was given. Many people will feel slight muscle pain, tiredness or even a mild fever. That’s pretty much it. Vaccines are one of the most studied medications and dangerous side effects have proven to be extremely rare. 9

 

Vaccinations are one of the most important aspects of a healthy and fully functioning society. Vaccinate your children and help insure that they, and the rest of the population, stay safe and avoid tragedies from preventable illnesses. 

 

References:

  1. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-measles-outbreak-20150128-story.html 
  2. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/ http://www.healthline.com/health/worst-disease-outbreaks-history#Smallpox2 and http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/10/health/epidemics-through-history/
  3. http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/05/autism.vaccines/
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/parents-guide/parents-guide-part4.html
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15342856
  6. https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/toxic-myths-about-vaccines/
  7. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/1/124.full
  8. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/06/26/peds.2014-1079.abstract