Vaccinations build up your body’s natural immunity to a disease. Without vaccinations, you’re at risk of catching a disease and spreading it. Since some diseases can spread before symptoms occur, you could unknowingly infect your family, coworkers, and virtually anyone with whom you interact, depending on how a specific disease spreads.
Myths that encourage people to deny vaccinations endanger individuals and public health. Internal medicine specialist Gurprit Sekhon, MD, and the staff of Nu Wave Medical Center in Panama City Beach, Florida, can help you understand the truth about vaccinations. Along with Dr. Sekhon, the professional staff provides expert vaccination advice and services for patients of all ages to ensure protection against preventable diseases.
Find out the facts as we debunk some common myths about vaccinations, so you can feel confident about this important form of protection.
Myth #1: Vaccinations cause autism
The relationship between vaccinations and autism originated in a 1998 study by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield. The article, published in The Lancet medical journal, suggested that the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) correlated with increased rates of autism in British children.
However, the paper was subsequently discredited based on serious procedural errors and ethical violations. In 2010, Dr. Wakefield lost his medical license and The Lancet retracted the paper.
Major legitimate studies that investigated Wakefield’s hypothesis failed to find a link between any vaccine and autism. While the specific cause of autism remains unknown, medical research indicates that autism develops well before birth and children show symptoms before receiving vaccinations.
Myth #2: Giving multiple vaccines together is dangerous
There’s no scientific evidence that receiving several vaccines at the same time produces harmful results. When a vaccine receives a license, it’s tested along with the other vaccines recommended for a specific age group. This ensures that the new vaccine doesn’t cause adverse reactions, lose its effectiveness, or interfere with others given at the same time.
U.S. children receive protection against 16 diseases by age 18. They must receive as many vaccines as early as possible to avoid getting sick when they’re most vulnerable. Since many vaccines require more than one dose, administering several at the same time or in a combination dose (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT)) reduces the total number of office visits, which saves time and money. It also reduces the number of traumatic events for a child.
Myth #3: Vaccinations aren’t safe
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the safety monitoring of vaccines in the United States. To qualify for approval, each vaccine must produce results of studies that demonstrate its safety and effectiveness. This process identifies most common side effects before public distribution.
Rarely, unexpected side effects occur when vaccines become available to the entire population. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a joint organization of the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monitors the safety of vaccinations. When adverse reactions to a vaccine occur, physicians must immediately report them to VAERS so follow-up can begin. Parents can also report adverse reactions to VAERS.
Myth #4: Natural infections provide better immunity than vaccinations
Vaccinations work with your immune system to produce a response similar to that produced by natural infection, but at a lower concentration, so you don’t suffer the complications associated with the disease. U.S. vaccines provide disease protection at an effectiveness of 90% to 99%.
Getting immunity through natural infection puts you at risk for complications that can include paralysis (polio), birth defects (rubella), cognitive impairments (Haemophilus influenza type b), liver cancer (hepatitis B) or encephalitis (measles). Some complications can lead to death. Even if you get a disease after being vaccinated, your symptoms are less likely to be as severe as if you weren’t protected.
Myth #5: Vaccinations aren’t necessary for diseases that don’t exist in the United States
Just because specific diseases don’t occur in the United States, doesn’t mean you can’t become infected. International travel allows for diseases to cross geographical borders even with preventive measures. Smallpox is the only disease eradicated worldwide.
We keep diseases controlled by maintaining “herd immunity,” which maintains that vaccinating one person protects them and also prevents them from transmitting it to other people. This protects vulnerable people who can’t receive vaccinations, such as young babies, people with immune-suppressing diseases, and those allergic to vaccines. To maintain herd immunity for the most contagious diseases, such as measles, up to 95% of people must receive its vaccination.
Find out how you and your family can benefit from vaccinations. Schedule an appointment online or call our office to arrange an appointment.