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Top 10 Myths About Childhood Vaccines (And Yes, We Still Need Them)

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Myth: Immunization is unnatural, and natural cures are safer.

Fact: Vaccines use a person’s natural defense to disease to stimulate the immune system. That means that if someone is exposed to that specific disease in the future, their immune system can “remember it” and fight it, stop the disease from developing, or reduce the severity of disease.

When it comes to natural cures, there is no scientific basis to support their use in preventing these preventable infections

Myth: Infectious diseases are not serious.

Fact: The infectious diseases that vaccines target can be serious and even fatal.

This myth is a tough one, since it’s partially the fault of vaccines working so well in the first place. Since the use of vaccines became widespread, epidemics, outbreaks and the number of cases of contagious diseases has been reduced. Sure, it may seem like infectious diseases aren’t that serious– but polio, which has been largely eradicated through vaccines, caused paralysis. Diphtheria made it almost impossible to breathe. Measles can cause brain damage. All of these have become extremely rare in the U.S. thanks to vaccinations. But unvaccinated children can still spread these diseases, and they can make a comeback.

Myth: Vaccines cause or spread the diseases they are supposed to prevent.

Fact: Most vaccines are inactivated or prepared from only part of the pathogen. This means the components of the vaccine are not living and therefore do not cause disease.

Myth: Vaccines contain toxic ingredients.

Fact: All vaccines marketed in the United States are assessed by the FDA to ensure they meet strict safety guidelines prior to being registered for use. This includes testing for all vaccine components.

Myth: You shouldn’t give a vaccine to a child who has a cold.

Fact: Studies show that having a mild illness doesn’t affect a child’s ability to react appropriately to the vaccine.

Myth: I had chicken pox when I was a kid, and it isn’t a big deal.

Fact: This is because of the vaccine, not in spite of it.

Before the vaccine was introduced, many children were hospitalized each year with serious complications, including pneumonia and dangerous skin infections. And children who don’t get chicken pox or the vaccine are at risk of getting it as an adult, which is a much more serious illness.

Myth: Vaccines can provide 100% disease protection.

Fact: Not quite. The best vaccines are those made with live weakened virus, such as MMR and chicken pox, which are about 95% effective.

The effectiveness of vaccines made with inactivated virus is between 75 and 80%. That means there’s a chance you could still get a disease after being vaccinated for it. But, if all children are vaccinated against an organism, it’s less likely to hang around. That’s why vaccinating an entire population is so important.

Myth: It’s best to wait until children are older before starting to give them vaccines.

Fact: Immunization schedules are designed to protect the most vulnerable patients from disease.

If you wait to give the vaccine, you may miss the window when a child is most vulnerable. Delays in immunization give rise to outbreaks of disease with serious consequences.

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