Do You Believe These Vaccine Myths? You Could Be Jeopardizing Your Health.

August is Immunization Awareness Month, and at Test Smartly Labs, we think this is perfect timing. As kids head back to school and flu season lurks just around the corner, it’s important now more than ever for children and adults to protect themselves against preventable diseases.

Although vaccines have a proven record of preventing the spread of disease, in recent history a number of vaccine myths have circulated. Fortunately, vaccine myths aren’t having a major impact on national immunization rates — they are above 90% for polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox. Yet several outbreaks of preventable diseases have been traced back to unimmunized children, including the 2013 measles outbreak in New York City, Texas, and North Carolina.

In an effort to promote public health, we’re dispelling some common vaccine myths.

Vaccine Myths – and the Truth Behind Them

#1: Vaccines have long-term side effects, including links to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and autism. They can even cause death.

This is one of the most widely-known and believed vaccine myths. Parents are obviously concerned for their children’s wellbeing and want to know that any foreign substances that enter the body are safe and necessary. Thanks to a now-disproved study that dubiously linked the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism, many parents believe that immunizations are dangerous and potentially fatal.

Yes, there are certain side effects of vaccinations, but autism is not one of them. Studies have also disproved the notion that the DTaP (diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine causes SIDS. One vaccine preservative that contains mercury, thimerosal, has also been disparaged in many vaccine myths, yet since 2001 no childhood vaccines except some variants of the flu shot have contained thimerosal, and before its removal, there was ” no convincing evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines.” Most vaccine reactions are minor and temporary, ranging from a sore arm to a little fever. More major reactions, such as seizure, have been recorded, but they are very rare; when they do occur, they are monitored and investigated.

Parents who buy into these vaccine myths actually risk their child’s health more by keeping them unvaccinated, as exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases could lead to paralysis, blindness, encephalitis, and even death.

#2: Vaccinations aren’t effective. In fact, most people who get preventable diseases have been immunized.

Test Smartly Labs | Vaccine MythsOne of the most damaging vaccine myths is that since vaccines aren’t 100% effective, they shouldn’t be used at all.

It’s true that most childhood vaccines are 85 – 95% effective rather than 100% — and it’s impossible to predict who will develop an immunity when vaccinated and who will not. Thus, in a country like the US where most people are vaccinated, the people who are vaccinated but don’t develop immunity will probably outnumber those who are unvaccinated. In an outbreak of preventable disease, then, you can expect for vaccinated people to be among the infected. It’s important to note, though, that even if a small percentage of vaccinated people catch the disease, a larger percent of unvaccinated people are sure to fall victim.

#3: Since most preventable diseases are uncommon in my country, I don’t need to be vaccinated.

Out of all the vaccine myths, this one could be most dangerous, as someone who believes in the effectiveness of vaccines could still view this as a reasonable statement. Yes, many developed countries have very few cases of vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years — but the diseases still circulate elsewhere and can be carried to the United States any time someone travels. When there are pockets of unvaccinated people, diseases flourish and can spread. While you may not think it’s necessary to vaccinate against diseases that seem far-removed, keep in mind that not everyone can be vaccinated, whether due to their age or medical conditions such as allergies or weakened immune systems; plus there are those who do not develop immunity even when vaccinated. By vaccinating yourself, you help protect your family and your entire community should diseases reemerge.

#4: Most preventable diseases were eradicated by better hygiene & living conditions.

This is one of the vaccine myths that has a kernel of truth to it. Of course better living conditions and improved hygiene has a positive impact and helps prevent the spread of disease. Yet looking at specific preventable diseases shows the direct impact of vaccinations. For example, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, cases of measles in the United States fluctuated between 300,000 and 800,000 from 1950 – 1963, when the measles vaccine was licensed and widespread immunization commenced. From 1963 onward, there was a sharp decline in measles cases. While living conditions may have improved from 1950 – 1963, it’s unrealistic to think sanitation alone is behind this extreme drop.

#5: Vaccine-preventable diseases are a fact of life, so the best way to get immunized is through encountering & overcoming the disease.

The last of our vaccine myths also has potentially fatal effects.

Think vaccine-preventable diseases should be naturally overcome? They’re probably harder to fight off than you know. Side effects of vaccine-preventable diseases includeparalysis, encephalitis, blindness, pneumonia, and even death. Even the flu, commonly thought of as the most innocuous of vaccine-preventable diseases, can kill 300,000 – 500,000 people annually and can cause severe infection in pregnant women, children, adults suffering from chronic conditions, and the elderly. Vaccine-preventable diseases are much worse than a case of the sniffles and much harder to “fight off” than a common cold.Protect Yourself With Test Smartly Labs.

Don’t buy into vaccine myths that can harm your family. Our nationwide facilities offer flu shots each year to help you protect yourself and those close to you from the disease. Many of our wellness-certified locations also offer the titers test, which gauges your immunity to preventable diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, and hepatitis B.

Learn more about how Test Smartly Labs can help you fight preventable diseases — find your nearest location today!

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