Busting Vaccination Myths, with Science-Based Evidence

 
Image Courtesy pinstock/iStock / Getty Images

Image Courtesy pinstock/iStock / Getty Images

It’s always been a hot topic and given the recent measles outbreaks I’d venture to say it’s more prominent now than ever.

Many people are taking notice and getting in on conversations, especially since the B.C. Health Minister announced schools will require immunization status by the fall.

There are also many popular myths out there that influence a parent’s decision whether or not to vaccinate their child, and sadly people buy in to them because they gain momentum from certain “spokespeople” in the media, *cough* Jenny McCarthy *cough*.

I won’t hide it. I am 100 per cent pro-vaccination.

I work in healthcare so I’m regularly updating my own vaccinations. I plan on vaccinating my future children and since becoming pregnant I’ve even had family members ensure they are up to date on their own vaccinations.

This post isn’t meant to push views on anyone, it’s simply meant to hit you with a bit of knowledge because when it comes down to it the decision of whether or not to vaccinate your child shouldn’t be based on opinion, it should be based on science, on evidence and hard facts. So let’s bust some myths, shall we?

MYTH #1: Vaccines cause autism.

This is probably one of the most common misconceptions about vaccines. It can be traced back to 1998 when British researchers published a paper stating that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine caused autism. The study looked at only 12 children, but received a lot of publicity. At the same time, there was a rapid increase in the number of kids diagnosed with the condition.

This study, combined with the increase in autism diagnoses, led other doctors to start conducting their own research. At least 12 follow-up studies were done and not one found a link between autism and vaccines.

An investigation into the original study later uncovered a number of problems with how it was conducted and the journal that published it eventually retracted it. In addition, investigators also learned that a lawyer looking for a link between the vaccine and autism had paid the lead researcher an equivalent of over half a million dollars to influence the study results.

Despite the evidence that had already accumulated, in the following years many people started believing that one of the additives in vaccines was responsible for autism. This substance, known as thimerosal, contains mercury and struck fear in to many as it’s been known to cause harm to the brain and kidneys. It’s purpose in vaccines is that of a preservative and it’s meant to prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria. Again, numerous studies were conducted with thimerosal as the main focus, and there was no evidence found to support a link to autism.

However, thimerosal was still taken out of most childhood vaccines by 2001 at the urging of health organization as many parents began withholding their children’s vaccinations out of fear despite the false claims.

I know there was a lot of medical jargon there so the moral of the story is: there is absolutely zero scientific evidence that demonstrates a link between autism and vaccinations. Period.

MYTH #2: Vaccines are full of other harmful and poisonous ingredients.

Nope, sorry wrong again.

If you took a quick look at the ingredients in vaccines you might get a little nervous. Formaldehyde, aluminum salts, antibiotics... at first glance it could appear a little scary. But look again, at exactly HOW MUCH of these ingredients are in the vaccine. The truth is, much like the addition of thimerosal, the amount of these substances has been scientifically proven to not harm your child.

Take aluminum salts for example, those are added to improve your body’s response to the vaccine and thus give you better protection. If you’re worried about exposing your child to aluminum you should probably know that it’s found in the air, water, many foods, and even breast milk.

MYTH #3: Vaccines are unnatural and homeopathic methods are just as effective.

Vaccines are meant to use the body’s natural reaction to a disease to stimulate the immune system. Many people believe that vaccines are unnatural and a person can build their own immunity to the disease if they are ever exposed to it.

Basically, people apply the logic of “let your kid eat dirt, it’s good for them.”

Well that’s fine and dandy, but dirt doesn’t expose your child to meningitis or measles. The diseases we vaccinate against are serious and potentially deadly. Our bodies simply do not have the capacity to fight them on their own. They need a little help. The benefits of vaccinations far outweigh infection that come with a vaccine-preventable disease.

Natural remedies such as homeopathy, essential oils, crystals, lifestyle and diet changes have no scientific evidence to demonstrate their effectiveness in preventing against these seriously infectious diseases.

So there you have it! If you still need more proof then I strongly encourage you to do some research of your own, but before you do PLEASE make sure you’re getting your information from a reputable source including peer-reviewed journals, valid studies and health organizations.

I know this post will ignite controversy amongst our readers, but that’s OK.

You know why? Because technically I didn’t write it. Scientists, researchers, doctors, and pharmacists did.

Jocelyn Lundberg

Sources:

Centre for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/index.html) HealthLinkBC (www.healthlinkbc.ca/hlbc/files/documents/healthfiles/hfile50d.pdf) World Health Organization (www.who.int/topics/vaccines/en/)

*Please get in touch with me if you would like a comprehensive list of the journals and sources used to support this post!