To vaccinate or not vaccinate? That’s an important question that every parent faces.
According to the CDC, “Vaccines are our best defense against infections that may have serious complications such as pneumonia, meningitis, cancer, and even death.” They recommend vaccinations to protect against 14 infectious diseases, before the age of two years. They include: measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, haemophilus influenza type B, polio, influenza, rotavirus, and pneumococcal disease.” Other experts agree and equate vaccinating to wearing a seatbelt.
However, while science has proved that it’s safe, effective, and truly necessary to immunize, there’s an increasingly large group of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. A study showed that nine out of 10 pediatricians say that they have been asked by at least one parent in their practice to alter their child’s immunization schedule—with most of those parents claiming that the vaccines are unnecessary.
Confused? Here’s a list of seven of the dangerous anti-vaccination arguments that parents make—and why they’re bogus.
They may cause autism.
Despite clear evidence that vaccines do not cause autism, this is often a major argument of “anti-vaxxers.” The Autism Science Foundation (and other autism related groups), as well as the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all released lists of studies that show no link between vaccination and autism.
The one study that people who don’t vaccinate often cite is the one that was conducted in 1998 by physician-researcher Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Unfortunately, his conclusions didn’t hold much water, as the research he conducted turned out to be fabricated. Dr. Wakefield admitted to falsifying the data and was subsequently stripped of his license.
Despite this, plenty of parents have shared anecdotes of children developing autism after being vaccinated. Anecdotal evidence, though, can hardly be compared with scientific fact; no direct proof of causation has been found and experts believe that those kids would probably have developed autism regardless of vaccination.
Vaccines may overload a child’s immune system.
From the day that babies are born, they’re pummeled by germs and viruses that serve to strengthen their bodies. They’re exposed to thousands of antigens (the immune boosting micro-organisms in germs) a day through eating different foods, putting their hands and objects in their mouths, and being around people who are sick.
Vaccines contain these same antigens and boost a baby’s immune system in the exact, same way—only with much less of a punch. The number of antigens that vaccines contain are equivalent to a child being exposed to a mild infection. For example, when a child has a cold, he or she is exposed to up to 10 antigens; with “strep throat,” the child is exposed to up to 25 to 50 antigens.
Each vaccine in the pediatric vaccination schedule has between one and 69 antigens. The total amount that a child may be exposed to through vaccination, by the age of 2, is a mere 315 antigens. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we pick up in our day-to-day life and isn’t something to be concerned about.
It’s only my decision and affects only me and my child if I don’t vaccinate.
Parents who don’t vaccinate their kids not only jeopardize their own children’s lives, but also the lives of those who surround them. Lives at risk include the ones of those who aren’t vaccinated or medically cannot be, including newborn babies, the elderly, people with lessened immune systems (like immunocompromised cancer patients on chemotherapy) and pregnant women.
With every non-vaccinated life, the ability of people to be protected via association becomes increasingly more compromised. “Herd” or “community immunity” occurs when the vast majority of people are immunized in a population; those who aren’t able to be immunized are still offered protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained—sort of like an immunity umbrella.
However, this homeostasis is jarred when the numbers of non-immunized children rise above a certain percent. It’s believed that in order to maintain herd immunity, 83 to 94 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated. With every family that chooses not to vaccinate, this precarious balance is in danger.
Natural immunity is better than vaccinations.
Natural immunity of a child can occur in different ways.
Maternal passive immunity occurs when antibodies are passed from the placenta to the fetus in order to protect a newborn. This immunity has a short shelf life and only lasts a few months. Immunity against bacterial infection is also provided through antibodies found in breastmilk, and serves to protect the baby until she can build these defenses on her own.
Natural immunity can also be acquired when a baby is exposed to a pathogen (germ or virus). Research shows that the immune response of people who have been vaccinated against disease is just as good as the immune response of people whose immunity comes from an infection.
However, a vaccine-acquired immunity, especially in the case of a child, is preferred because the child needs not tolerate the actual infection in order to be protected. With natural immunity, a baby can become sick, suffer the illnesses side effects including possible death on her way to becoming immunized.
The illnesses we vaccinate for are in the past and no longer affect us.
This is true so long that most people are immunized and herd immunity is present. When a large majority of the population can inherently fight off the pathogens that invade their systems, everyone is protected and a disease can never establish itself and spread like crazy.
However, if larger percentages of the population don’t vaccinate, an increased percentage of the populations will be vulnerable (eventually making everyone vulnerable). This gives viruses and bacteria the opportunity to attack, get stronger, and stay longer. Even though the threat of certain diseases seem to be gone in the U.S., they are quite prevalent elsewhere.
International travel is great in terms of life experience, but not so great if you bring back a disease. Combine the dissolution of herd immunity with the introduction of a foreign disease and the potential for an epidemic rises.
Vaccines are filled with other unhealthy material.
Most vaccines are made of antigens (dead or dormant disease), adjuvants (to enhance the immune system response), antibiotics (to prevent bacteria and other contaminants during the making of the vaccine), preservatives and stabilizers (albumin, phenols, and glycine), and suspending fluid (sterile water, saline, or fluids containing protein).
Many anti-vax parents are concerned about the use of thimerosal as a preservative, as it contains trace amounts of mercury. The type of mercury that’s found in thimerosal is ethylmercury. It differs from methylmercury, the type of mercury that’s found in fish and that is known to be harmful to kids in certain amounts. Ethylmercury is broken down in the body and excreted much quicker than methylmercury, and has not been shown to cause autism or any other harmful effects.
As a precaution, manufacturers have stopped using thimerosal in the making of vaccinations any way—it’s now only used in the influenza vaccine and thimerosal-free options are also available.
Vaccines are a good way for large companies to make money.
Look, we live in a capitalist society. That means everyone needs to make money—even pharmaceutical companies and pediatricians. However, to say that these individuals push vaccinations to make a profit is not only incorrect, it’s grossly irresponsible. Looking more closely, pediatricians and drug companies are not only not getting rich on vaccines, they often lose money on vaccine administration.
At one time, the financial profits of vaccine business were so bad that many pharmaceutical firms actually sold their vaccine divisions to other companies so that they could concentrate on more profitable drugs. They found they could make more money selling the medicines that people took daily than the vaccines that were administered only once a year—and sometimes only once in a lifetime.
It may seem astounding to learn that the vaccine industry is valued at over $24 billion, however, it only makes up a mere 2 to 3 percent of a trillion-dollar worldwide pharmaceutical industry. Additionally, it’s important to note that pharmaceuticals rarely receive funding by the federal government. Most of the money goes to vaccine research by the National Institutes of Health.