Vaccines Are Matter of Fact

Vaccines save lives

Vaccines are the great success story of modern preventative medicine and among the most efficient tools for promoting individual and public health. They save 6 million lives each year.

Vaccines are safe

You may be concerned about vaccines’ side effects. Vaccines are upheld to the highest safety standards and are continually monitored for safety, but like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. Most side effects are mild—such as redness and swelling at the site of injection—and only last for a few days.

More serious side effects are extremely rare. Fewer than 1 in 1,000,000 children receiving the measles vaccine have a serious allergic reaction. To put that number into perspective: Out of every 1,000,000 children who get measles, 1,000-2,000 children will die.

A small percentage of the population cannot get vaccinated because of medical conditions or because they are too young to receive certain vaccines.

Vaccines defeat disease

Vaccines have conquered some of the deadliest diseases known to man. They eradicated smallpox and had all but relegated polio, mumps, measles, rubella, whooping cough and diphtheria to a few remote corners of the world, until recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough in the US and elsewhere due to decreasing vaccination rates.

Vaccines do not cause autism

You may have heard that the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella or German measles vaccine) can cause autism. More than a dozen studies, including a combined analysis of 1.2 million vaccinated children, failed to find a link between vaccines and autism. Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who was the first one to report a purported link between the MMR vaccine and autism, was formally disciplined for fraud and lost his medical license.

Vaccines protect the community

Vaccines protect more than just the vaccinated person. If enough people are vaccinated, it is difficult for a disease-causing microorganism to gain a foothold in a community. Known as herd immunity, it offers protection to those who can’t get vaccinated—including newborns and people whose immune systems are compromised—because there are not enough infected individuals around to pass the infection along.

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their child rely on others around them to do the right thing to protect their own children. However, vaccination rates have to reach over 90 percent in certain diseases for herd immunity to work, and if more parents refuse or delay vaccines, they put vulnerable members of their community at risk to contract a vaccine preventable illness, such as measleswhooping cough, or mumps.

You may question whether the decision to vaccinate or not should be a personal choice. When municipalities first started to enact smoking bans in the workplace to protect non-smokers from unwanted and dangerous exposure to second hand smoke, many complained about infringement of their personal freedom. Today, smoke-free hospitals, offices, restaurants and bars have become the new normal and are taken for granted. More importantly, they have led to benefits in public health including a significant drop in lung cancer rates.

Protecting our communities from preventable diseases should be the cultural norm and not left to chance.