vaccine

Are vaccines safe? Arguments of Anti-Vaxxers

Are you a parent who is concerned about the vaccination schedule of their children? Do you frequently hear arguments labeling vaccinations as unsafe for you and your offsprings? You have now reached the right place. Here you’ll find the answers to all your concerns. We’ll demystify all the myths revolving around vaccinations and their safety.

The opposition to vaccination dates back to as early as they were introduced. That implies that vaccination resistance is not a new but old perception.

When the smallpox vaccine was introduced and employed in bulk in the early 1800s, their rebuttal also surfaced. People could not accept the concept of injecting people with a fraction of a cowpox blister to protect them from smallpox itself. That gave rise to a lot of criticism on religious, hygienic, and political grounds.

There were several reasons people used to fear vaccinations, and most of these still have their roots up till now. For some people, vaccinations intervene with their religious or philosophical beliefs, while for others, compulsory vaccinations are seen as interference by the government in their personal preferences. Other people are apprehensive about vaccines’ safety and might think that preventable diseases through vaccines are not otherwise a severe health risk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified some misconceptions related to vaccines. Following is a description of what these myths are and why they are wrong. [1]

Misconception # 1

“Infections and disease are eradicated by better sanitary and hygienic conditions rather than vaccination.”

Advocates of this belief state that vaccines are not wholly responsible for decreasing infection rates. Improved sanitation, quality of food, and antibiotics have played a role too. However, this belief is not exactly true. Isolating each of these factors and comparing them with the rates of infectious disease has shown that the part played by vaccines cannot be denied.

One example to clarify this concept is reducing measles in the United States following its vaccine introduction. [2] That occurred while the sanitary conditions and hygiene remained relatively unchanged. When the measles vaccine was first developed in 1963, the infection rates fell from 400,000 cases a year to approximately 25,000 cases within three years. Similarly, as per CDC data, the prevalence rate of Hib disease dropped down to 1500 cases from 20,000 from 1990 to 1993 after developing its vaccine. [3]

 

Misconception # 2

“In many cases, vaccinations cause the infection instead of preventing it.”

Although vaccines can cause some symptoms similar to the disease they are combating, it is a misconception that these symptoms are because of the infection itself. In reality, in less than 1 in one million cases in which symptoms appear, it is due to the vaccine’s intended immune response. [4] A vaccine that had shown to cause infection was the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), which is not used in the United States anymore. [5] Vaccines are safely used ever since and strictly follow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. [6]

Misconception # 3

“Most of the people who contract the infection are the vaccinated ones as opposed to non-vaccinated.”

It is believed that people who become infected are the ones who have had lower immunity status due to getting vaccinated rather than the ones who are not vaccinated. People believe that the natural immunity acquired by contracting the infection leads to a stronger immunity than the vaccination. Although this approach might be accurate in some instances, its risks far outweigh the relative benefits. If you contract a disease, the risk of death is only 1 in 500. [7] On the contrary, only one in one million people are at risk of a severe allergic reaction following an MMR vaccine. [8]

Although not a single vaccine is 100% efficacious, most of them are 85% to 95% effective. For the vaccines to be safe for use, the bacteria or virus is attenuated, meaning it is weakened or killed.

Misconception # 4

“Vaccines encompass a wide range of serious side effects.”

Mostly the anti-vaxxers claim that vaccines are not worth the risk because they have many side effects. Despite this, children are safely vaccinated for years. No study in development has reported an association between vaccines and serious long term health risks.

As for the alleged short term risks of vaccines, such as severe side effects or allergic reactions, the occurrence of death is low, so much so that it has never been counted. For example, between 1990 and 1992, there was a report of only one case of death to the CDC, attributed to a vaccine. This myth of severe allergic reaction to vaccines is mostly based on only a single case out of one or two million shots. [9]

Misconception # 5

“Because of low infection rates and the virtual elimination of the disease, vaccination is not needed.”

As long as many people are vaccinated in a population, even those unvaccinated are safe. With resistance developed in a lot of people, an infection will be highly unlikely to spread. On the other hand, if many people remain unvaccinated, they increase the risk of viruses and bacteria to spread and infect more people.

Travel

As of now, the amount of international travel is greater than ever before. That is why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have warned people about the threat of contracting the disease from other countries carrying the infection even if the infection rates are low in your own country. If an individual brings disease to your country, people most susceptible to it would be the unvaccinated ones if exposed. [10]

 

FAQs


How are vaccines tested for effectiveness?

Vaccine development begins in the laboratory before any tests in animals or humans are done. If laboratory tests show that a vaccine has potential, it is usually tested in animals. If a vaccine is safe in animals, and studies suggest that it will be safe in people, clinical trials with volunteers are next.

How does a vaccine trial work?

The drug is introduced into a small cohort of healthy volunteers. Vaccine escalation studies aim to minimize the chances of serious adverse effects (SAE) by slowly increasing the drug dosage or frequency. The first level of an escalation study usually has two or three groups of around ten healthy volunteers.

What is MMR immunization?

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine are recommended for all children. It protects against three potentially serious illnesses. It is a two-part vaccination, and in most states, you must prove your children have gotten it before they can enter school.

What is in the DPT shot?

The DPT vaccine (DPT) is a class of combination vaccines against three infectious diseases in humans: diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus. The vaccine components include diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and either killed whole cells of the bacterium that causes pertussis or pertussis antigens.

How can anti-vaxxers cause trouble for international travel?

With the increasing number of people that travel in and out of the country every year, there is a high probability of the spread of diseases. If a foreigner brings disease, it may stir serious trouble if the local population was not vaccinated. For this reason, during COVID-19, severe measures were taken at airports around the world. Wearing masks is a compulsion in the majority of the places.

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