In an age where anyone can pull up a website that verifies their beliefs, it can be difficult to recognize fact from fiction – especially when it comes to hot-button topics like vaccines. While a small percentage of people experience negative side effects from vaccines, anti-vaccine literature perpetuates false information that can confuse parents and educators.
Here you’ll find some of the biggest misconceptions about vaccines:
Common Vaccine Misconceptions
- Vaccines overload the immune system. This misconception led people to believe that a child’s immune system could be overloaded if given too many vaccines at once. Contrary to that, delaying vaccinations puts a child at a greater risk of contracting a preventable illness.
- People who have been vaccinated are more likely to get sick. Some people believe, or have been led to believe, that you’re more likely to get sick after you’ve been vaccinated. While vaccines are not 100 percent effective, most childhood vaccines are 85 percent to 95 percent effective.
- Vaccines aren’t necessary if the disease isn’t prevalent. While certain diseases are no longer as prevalent as they were 100 years ago, this does not mean the vaccines for them are not necessary. Last fall, Syracuse University faced a mumps outbreak when over 50 students contracted the disease. In hopes of stopping the spread of the disease, the university offered MMR boosters.
- Improved hygiene and nutrition are responsible for the decline in disease – not vaccines. While it is true our hygiene and nutrition standards are much improved from centuries past, this does not necessarily correlate to the decline of all diseases. For example, a drop in chickenpox cases didn’t occur until the vaccine was released in the 1990s.
- Only the strong survive (natural immunity). There is sometimes the assumption that natural infection is more effective than vaccination because it improves the immune system. In other words, if you get sick and your body fights on the illness, you’re better off for it. This is not the case. If someone was to contract a preventable disease they could face outcomes like paralysis, deafness, blindness, or even death.
Next time you’ve got a concern about a vaccine, considering asking your doctor before you consult an anonymous online forum. The information you receive from your healthcare professional will undoubtedly be more reliable and will stop the perpetuation of these dangerous misconceptions.