Anti-vaccination groups do a great job of scaring people about the dangers of vaccines. Anytime I post on the topic, I get many nastygrams from anti-vax parents. If I didn’t have a father who worked a career in public health, I might have fallen victim to their propaganda. Thankfully, he taught me the value of herd immunity. Vaccinating my son was never a question. However, for populations less educated on the topic, the anti-vax groups can be incredibly compelling with their so-called data. Vaccinations are incredibly necessary for me due to my son’s fragile health. For these reasons, I want to debunk four lies that anti-vax groups spread.
Vaccines Cause Autism
Anti-vaccination groups love to talk about an ingredient in vaccines called Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that prevented contamination of vaccines. Since 2003, the Center for Disease Control has conducted nine studies to test the link between thimerosal and autism. Every single study has shown there is no link. Additionally, Thimerosal was removed from all vaccines between 1999-2001. The only vaccine that contains thimerosal today is the flu vaccine. However, flu vaccinations are available in thimerosal-free shots.
Individuals have also tried to tie other ingredients in vaccines to shots. Again, there are no studies that indicate any correlation between autism and vaccinations.
Anti-vax groups will point to studies down by a British scientist Andrew Wakefield as the source for their concerns about vaccines and autism. However, Wakefield only reviewed the cases of 12 children. The organization that published his paper investigated his claims and study results locating numerous errors in his research. Wakefield’s publisher eventually redacted his paper, and he ultimately lost his license to practice medicine in the United Kingdom.
I’m not sure how many studies need to be done to conclude there is no correlation between autism and vaccines. The fact that anti-vaxxers completely negate scientific proof demonstrates their commitment to perpetuating lies.
Vaccine Shedding Causes Illness
When I wrote a blog on autism and vaccines, a strong proponent of vaccines told me kids who aren’t vaccinated get sick from vaccinated kids due to shedding that occurs from live vaccines. Shedding of the disease can only happen in a live vaccine, and there are only three vaccines that made from live viruses. Chickenpox, MMR, and rotavirus are the only vaccines that contain live pathogens.
The Immunization Partnership noted that of the 50 million chickenpox vaccines delivered in the United States, there are only 11 reported cases of contracting the disease via shedding. 11 people out of 50 million are pretty good odds you aren’t going to get sick from the virus. Patients that receive the vaccine that get a rash are advised to stay away from anyone with a weakened immune system.
According to Dr. Susan H. Wootton, a specialist in infectious disease and associate professor at the University of Texas McGovern Medical School, the MMR vaccine doesn’t shed. Signs of the virus can be found in the blood for 7-28 days following immunization. However, the levels of the virus in the vaccines are so low that they cannot infect an unvaccinated individual.
Rotavirus can be found in stools in some babies following the vaccine. However, transmission of the disease is extremely rare. Physicians say that the benefits far outweigh the risks of the disease. If children don’t receive the rotavirus vaccine, every child will get the virus by age five. The World Health Organization estimated 215,000 deaths of children due to rotavirus in 2013.
Vaccine shedding is extremely rare. Even if there is shedding, the risk of infection is extremely low. This argument does not stand up against any evidence backed by science.
Too Many Vaccines
I’ll never forget an image a friend shared with me about the number of vaccines given to children today vs. the number of vaccines children received in 1983. The image is designed to provoke outrage. In 1983, there were seven diseases the CDC recommended as vaccinations. Due to the way the vaccines were made in 1983, babies were exposed to 3,000 antigens by 12 months old and 12,000 antigens by age four.
Today the CDC recommends 14 vaccines for infants and children. If a parent follows the recommended vaccination schedule, a child is exposed to 105-204 antigens by 12 months old. By age four, the child will have been exposed to a total of 359 antigens.
Simple math tells you that 359 antigens are much less than 12,000 antigens. Even with more vaccines, children are exposed to significantly fewer antigens. The argument has no supporting evidence to make this argument valid.
Vaccines Contain Unsafe ToxinsAnti-vax groups love to talk about all the horrible toxins in vaccines. Their favorite ingredient to target is aluminum. Aluminum is the third most naturally occurring element next to silicon and oxygen. Several vaccines contain aluminum because it strengthens the immune system’s response to the vaccine.
A child that is breastfed will ingest around 7 milligrams of aluminum through their diet by six months old. In contrast, the recommended vaccines given during this time only expose the infant to 4.4 milligrams of aluminum. The amount of aluminum is so low that it doesn’t increase the amount of aluminum found in the blood.
Another toxin they like to scare people with is Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is used to detoxify bacterias in the vaccines. By eliminating bacteria, people won’t get sick when injected. An average child will have more formaldehyde in their body than what is in a vaccine. A typical vaccine will have .02 ml per dose of formaldehyde. The average 2-month-old child has 1.1 ml of formaldehyde in their blood.
Vaccines don’t contain toxins that will harm the body. In fact, most ingredients used in vaccines naturally occur in children in higher quantities. There is no evidence to support this claim.
What is the Truth?
The truth is despite all the arguments anti-vax groups provide to naive individuals; there is no truth behind any of their claims.
Vaccines do not cause autism.
Shedding of vaccines does not increase infections in unvaccinated children.
There are not more toxins going into our children due to the number of vaccines our children receive.
The levels of toxins used in vaccines are less than what the body naturally produces.
The World Health Organization reminds everyone to stick to the facts when it comes to vaccines. Every year, 1.5 million children die due to vaccine-preventable deaths. To protect the population from outbreaks, the WHO recommends 95% of people get vaccinated. When it comes to disease, herd immunity matters.
Stop listening to the lies driven by the anti-vax movement. Science supports the safety and benefits of vaccines. The only way we can reduce preventable death from diseases is via vaccination. Vaccination is a modern tool that we should all embrace and no longer fear.
Don’t believe the hype of the anti-vax movement.
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