Following an outbreak of measles in the Pacific Northwest, exemption policies for vaccinations will likely become even more of a “hot topic” in the political realm. However, that is a discussion for a different day. My hope is that encouraging immunization against easily preventable diseases would gain bipartisan support. Below are five easy ways to argue the importance of getting vaccinated when faced with some of the common arguments from anti-vaxxers.
MYTH #1: Vaccines cause autism.
A study done by British researchers, published in 1998, is where the myth that vaccines cause autism originated. Dr. Wakefield, who no longer has a medical license, suggested that a combined vaccine of MMR was directly correlated to the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders in children. This publication in the Lancet spread like wildfire and provides another reason why peer review is so important—especially for scientific journals. After Wakefield came to this conclusion, many other studies were done to disprove the point that vaccines cause autism. There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines are in any way linked to autism.
MYTH #2: Vaccines contain harmful ingredients.
The FDA works to monitor the safety of vaccines. They also ensure that they are completely safe before allowing vaccines to be administered. Vaccines are subject to strict testing and are monitored even after being approved to hit the market. It has long been stated that formaldehyde, mercury, aluminum, and other harmful substances are measurably present in vaccines. However, this isn’t true. Many of the so called “harmful” ingredients in vaccines are made in greater quantities by our own bodies and we often ingest them in larger quantities through things as simple as drinking water. If these ingredients were measurably harmful, the FDA wouldn’t allow them to be administered in vaccines.
MYTH #3: We don’t need vaccines because things like MMR don’t exist anymore.
We don’t have as many cases of MMR because vaccines DO exist. As much as antivaxxers don’t like to admit it, herd immunity is a viable explanation for why getting vaccinated is important. Because people are vaccinated, they are protected from these harmful diseases. Vaccines were able to nearly eradicate diseases such as polio and smallpox. However, those who are unable to be vaccinated are now increasingly more susceptible to preventable diseases. Why? Because people that are able to be vaccinated are electing not to be vaccinated.
MYTH #4: The side effects of vaccines are harmful.
Of course, every medicine or vaccine has side effects. However, the most common side effect of a majority of vaccines is simply a fever. Personally, I would much prefer a sore arm and a low-grade fever as opposed to developing paralysis from polio because I chose not to get vaccinated against something that is avoidable.