When you’re expecting your first child it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the copious amounts of information out there. We all want what’s best for our baby. But, that can be challenging when you’re fed conflicting information at every turn. In fact, there are few parenting topics more divisive and confusing than vaccinations. So, lucky for you, we’ve turned to worldwide scientific experts to present the real facts about the importance of vaccines.
#1 – Immunizations Save Lives
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a global health organization that was established in 1948. It directs international health initiatives within the infrastructure of the United Nations (UN). It is held accountable by all the countries that are members of the UN. As a result, they are an eminently trustable source when it comes to worldwide health statistics thanks to their access to wide-ranging data and their unusually high level of global accountability.
We say all of that because WHO has reported that immunizations currently prevent between 2 and 3 million deaths every year from communicable diseases that include measles, diphtheria, and whooping cough. They also project that an additional 1.5 million deaths worldwide could be prevented if global vaccine coverage improves.
#2 – Do Vaccines Cause Autism?
The idea that vaccines cause autism is one of the most widely-believed pieces of medical misinformation that has ever been spread. The myth comes from an article that was penned by Andrew Wakefield, MD in 1998 which made the claim that he had definitively established a link between the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine and autism. However, his study was based on 12 cases which is far too small to meet the threshold for accuracy by scientific standards, and his data was found to be incorrect. Wakefield was formally disciplined for fraud, and he lost his medical license in 2010. But the harm had been done. Now countless other studies like this one have failed to establish any correlation between vaccines and autism.
#3 – Vaccines Are An Excellent Teacher
Vaccines actually work by training your immune system. They activate antibodies that fight a given illness without actually giving you that illness. This way, if you’re ever actually exposed to that disease, your body already knows how to fight it off. It’s a pretty nifty trick.
#4 – Superbugs May Meet Their Match in Vaccines
For years, doctors overprescribed antibiotics. Misuse and overuse of antibiotics has created so-called superbugs which are resistant to antibiotics. Keeping up with vaccines can help prevent people from getting sick in the first place, which helps immensely in the frontline fight against drug-resistant bacteria.
#5 – New Strides Are Being Made In Vaccine Research
People forget that even a few generations ago, vaccines were virtually unheard of. Now that we’ve seen devastating illnesses be virtually wiped off the face of the planet, we as a society have been inspired to keep making new advancements. A vaccine against dengue fever has been licensed in a number of countries, and last year a pilot for a malaria vaccine rolled out in different parts of Africa.
#6 – There Are Some Valid Health Reasons Not To Vaccinate …
Not everyone is able to get vaccines. Newborns aren’t able to receive many vaccinations until they are anywhere from 2 to 6 months old. People with compromised immune systems due to medical issues like autoimmune disorders or cancer being treated with chemotherapy can’t either. People with severe egg allergies even need to avoid some immunizations that contain egg (though egg-free alternatives for flu vaccines, at least, are becoming more widely available all the time). There are also very rare occasions when a bad reaction happens: for instance, 1 in 14,000 children can experience a seizure after receiving the DTap (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine, and the same side effect can occur in 1 in 3,000 children who receive the MMR vaccine. Children at higher risk for these side effects are often advised to skip these vaccines. But, that’s not a decision to be made in a vacuum. Please consult your pediatrician.
#7 – But That’s What Herd Immunity Is For
Vaccinations are an important part of the social contract and when enough people are vaccinated, the herd immunity kicks in. Numbers vary from disease to disease, but essentially, when 85% to 95% of the population is immunized, it’s enough to root out the illness so that the people who legitimately can’t receive vaccines are protected. It’s hard work and a lot to learn when you become a new parent. Hopefully, our scientifically-sourced guide will help you feel confident and informed when you make this important health decision for your child.