Tag: herd immunity

Alternatives to Getting Vaccinated

Are there any alternatives to getting vaccinated?

Sure. You can read about them all day long from holistic “experts” and on anti-vaccine websites.

Are there any good alternatives to getting vaccinated?

No. At least not if you want to be truly protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Alternatives to Getting Vaccinated

Kids who are born with immune disorders don't have to live in isolation bubbles any more, but they still need protection.
Kids who are born with immune disorders don’t have to live in isolation bubbles any more, but they still need protection. Photo by Baylor College of Medicine

Unfortunately, some folks don’t have other options and they need to look at an alternative for protection from vaccine-preventable diseases that doesn’t include vaccines.

These are the folks with contraindications or true medical exemptions for vaccines.

What do they do?

It depends on the specific circumstances, but in most cases, except for live vaccines or any other specific vaccine that is contraindicated, they usually get vaccinated.

Extremely few people can’t get at least some, if not most, of their vaccines, even if they do have contraindications to some others. And many exemptions are temporary.

“Parents need to balance the need of the immunoreconstituted child (post-transplant SCID) to be protected from exposure to infection from live vaccines and close contact–transmitted vaccine-derived infection with the need of the child to integrate into society and develop social and learning skills in group environments.”

Medical Advisory Committee of the Immune Deficiency Foundation

They also try to avoid people who are sick and  try to make sure that everyone around them is vaccinated to help maintain herd immunity levels of protection.

Neither is always possible though.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

Post-exposure prophylaxis is another option that is available to help prevent some vaccine-preventable diseases. For example, if your unvaccinated child is exposed to measles, they can often receive immune globulin to help them avoid getting measles.

Regimens for post-exposure prophylaxis are also available for:

  • chicken pox – varicella zoster immune globulin or immune globulin
  • diphtheria – antibiotics
  • hepatitis A – immune globulin
  • hepatitis B – hepatitis B immune globulin
  • influenza – oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir
  • meningococcal disease – antibiotics
  • pertussis – antibiotics
  • rabies – rabies immune globulin
  • tetanus – tetanus immune globulin

When possible, immunization typically accompanies these post-exposure prophylaxis regimens.

There is one big problem with these types of post-exposure prophylaxis regimens though. You are not always going to know when your child is exposed to someone else with a vaccine-preventable disease. While some exposures might be obvious, like if your child steps on a rusty nail or is bitten by an unvaccinated dog who has rabies, you might miss some others.

Bogus Alternatives to Getting Vaccinated

What other alternatives to getting vaccinated are out there?

Unfortunately, there are none that work.

Many bogus alternatives to getting vaccinated are pushed by those opposed to vaccines as ways to boost your immunity, and they can include:

  • breastfeeding – while breastfeeding is great and always encouraged, the passive immunity it provides will not protect your baby from most vaccine-preventable diseases, as it contains IgA antibodies, not the IgG antibodies you would need to prevent diseases like measles, tetanus, chicken pox, and Hib, etc.
  • homeopathic vaccines – nosodes are homeopathic vaccines that have been diluted so much that they are supposed to retain a memory of the original substance. Even if they did – that’s not how immunology works.
  • herbs – neither echinacea, goldenseal root, nor elderberry syrup is going to boost your child’s immunity
  • vitamins – unless your child is severely vitamin deficient, taking vitamins isn’t going to boost their immunity, whether they are taking extra vitamin C or extra vitamin D
  • foods – Japanese mushrooms, kale, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, avocados, ginger, black currants, graviola, green veggies, onion seeds, and berries might all be great to eat, but they aren’t going to boost your immunity
  • probiotics – they may help prevent antibiotic associated diarrhea, but there is not much evidence that taking them regularly does anything else
  • essential oils – they sometimes smell nice, but they aren’t going to boost your child’s immune system
  • chiropractic adjustments – not going to work
  • sun exposure – in addition to the worries about skin cancer, not only does extra sun exposure not boost your immune system, the WHO reports that “Several studies have demonstrated that exposure to environmental levels of UV radiation alters the activity and distribution of some of the cells responsible for triggering immune responses in humans. Consequently, sun exposure may enhance the risk of infection with viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections, which has been demonstrated in a variety of animal models.”
  • fermented cod liver oil – this is not going to boost your child’s immune system, but folks should also know that there have been reports that the products that people have been buying and using for years were rancid and actually making them sick! There are much better ways to get vitamin D and vitamin A in your diet than taking fermented cod liver oil each day.

What about natural immunity?

While natural immunity can in some ways be more effective than vaccine induced immunity, it often comes at a price. You have to recover from the disease, hopefully without any long term consequences, to develop natural immunity.

What to Know About Alternatives to Getting Vaccinated

People who truly can’t be vaccinated rely on herd immunity, because in most cases, there are no effective alternatives for vaccines.

More On Alternatives to Getting Vaccinated

Did Your Hepatitis B Antibody Test Come Back Negative?

Hepatitis B can be prevented.Three doses of the hepatitis B vaccines have been shown to provide long lasting protection in most people.

Do you need to get your titers checked to make sure you are immune?

Usually not. Simply being fully vaccinated with the  vaccine is  good enough evidence that you are immune in most, but not all circumstances.

A few circumstances in which you might need to be tested can include:

  • a baby who was born to a HBsAg (hepatitis B surface antigen) mother
  • being a healthcare worker who has a job and who is in a work setting that puts them at higher risk for exposure to blood or body fluids from patients who are positive for HBsAg
  • being immunocompromised, so you are not sure if the vaccine is going to work, or patients requiring chronic dialysis
  • someone who has sex or shares needles with a person who has a chronic hepatitis B infection

The screening test for vaccine immunity that is done checks the persons level of anti-HBs (antibody to the hepatitis B surface antigen). It should be done one to two months after your last dose of hepatitis B vaccine, but not later.

“Persons determined to have anti-HBs concentrations of ≥10 mIU/mL after receipt of the primary vaccine series are considered immune, and the result should be documented. Immunocompetent persons have long-term protection and do not need further periodic testing to assess anti-HBs levels.”

CDC on Immunization of Health-Care Personnel

The alternative to screening healthcare workers after they complete their vaccination series is to do postexposure management. In this method, in the case of a needlestick or other blood or body fluid exposure, both the source patient and the health care worker are tested and postexposure prophylaxis is given as necessary.

Don’t pregnant women get tested for hepatitis B? They do, but not to see if they are immune from immunization. They routinely have a HBsAg test to see if they have a chronic hepatitis B infection, which can be passed on to their baby.

Other screening tests that can be done include anti-HBc (antibody to hepatitis B core antigen) and IgM anti-HBc (IgM subclass to hepatitis B core antigen). These two tests can help you figure out if a person has an acute infection or is immune from a past infection.

Non-Immune Hepatitis B Titer Levels

Why check the anti-HBs level?

Because of the devastating effects of chronic hepatitis B infections, it is good to have all of the information you can get to help prevent a possible infection if you are exposed to blood or body fluids while working.

Having a positive anti-HBs level, typically defined as a level of ≥10 IU/mL, means that you are immune and protected.

But what if your level is negative? What if your level is <10 IU/mL after you have already gotten three doses of hepatitis B vaccine?

Then you get another dose of hepatitis B vaccine and the level is checked again in one to two months. If it is still <10 IU/mL, then you get two more doses of hepatitis B vaccine and the level is checked again in one to two months.

If you are still negative after six or more doses of hepatitis B vaccine, then you are considered a non-responder. You would then require postexposure testing and possible prophylaxis if you are exposed to a patient’s blood or body fluids.

What If You Lost Your Hepatitis B Immunity?

There is a reason that they don’t recommend testing more than one to two months after your last dose of hepatitis B vaccine.

“Studies indicate that immunologic memory remains intact for at least 20 years and confers protection against clinical illness and chronic HBV infection, even though anti-HBs levels that once measured adequate might become low or decline below detectable levels. If one is challenged with HBV, people whose immune systems are competent will mount an anamnestic response and develop protective anti-HBs.”

Immunization Action Coalition on Hepatitis B Questions

It is known that anti-HBs levels can decrease over time.

Fortunately, this does not lead to waning immunity in typical circumstances. Because of an anamnestic response, the hepatitis B vaccine provides long lasting protection, even if your antibody levels appear to have dropped.

Avoiding Hepatitis B

Since health care workers should practice universal precautions whether or not they are immune to hepatitis B, being a non-responder isn’t going to change how you do things too much.

Plus, there are other diseases that are not yet vaccine preventable that you could get if you are stuck with a needle, so you are hopefully still very careful, no matter how immune you are to hepatitis B.

Still, it is very nice to have one less thing to worry about in this situation.

“Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated persons who experience a workplace exposure from persons known to be HBsAg-positive should receive 1 dose of hepatitis B immune globulin HBIG (i.e., passive vaccination) as soon as possible after exposure (preferably within 24 hours).”

CDC on Immunization of Health-Care Personnel

If you are a non-responder and and are exposed to hepatitis B, then one thing that is different is that you will likely require two doses of HBIG (hepatitis B immune globulin) for protection. Others can get one dose of HBIG and can repeat the hepatitis B vaccine. Those who are fully vaccinated and known to be immune likely won’t have to do anything to protect themselves from hepatitis B, although each incident should be investigated to make sure.

But it is not just healthcare workers who are at risk for accidental needlesticks. What if a healthcare worker sticks themselves and then you or your child? Or what if your child gets stuck with a discarded needle at the park?

What to Know About Hepatitis B Titers

Get vaccinated and follow the latest guidelines if you are exposed to hepatitis B, especially if you are a non-responder to the vaccine with low titer levels.

More on Hepatitis B Titers and Immunity

Did Your Rubella Titer Come Back Negative?

Two doses of the MMR vaccines give the great majority of people long lasting immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella. Well, measles and rubella anyway. Unfortunately, the mumps part of the vaccine has some issues with waning immunity.

Do you need to get your titers checked to make sure you are immune?

Usually not. Simply being fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine is  good enough evidence that you are immune in most, but not all circumstances

Getting or being pregnant is one of those circumstances in which it is important to know for sure. It is really one of the only circumstances. Health care works are no longer routinely tested after they are vaccinated, as proof of vaccination is good evidence of immunity for the MMR vaccine.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women be screened for rubella.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women be screened for rubella.

That screening test is a rubella serum IgG levels or as it is more commonly known as, a titer level.

Non-Immune Rubella Titers

Why check it?

Because of the devastating effects of congenital rubella syndrome, all pregnant women are screened early in their pregnancy.

Babies with congenital rubella syndrome may have cataracts and many other birth defects.
Babies with congenital rubella syndrome may have cataracts and many other birth defects. Photo courtesy PHIL

Having a positive rubella titer, typically defined as a IgG level of ≥10 IU/mL, means that you are immune and protected.

But what if your rubella titer is negative? What if your level is <10 IU/mL?

We know that levels of vaccine-induced rubella antibodies can decrease over time, but unlike mumps and pertussis, this does not seem lead to waning immunity with rubella.

Still, the current recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) are that:

  1. Vaccinated women of childbearing age who have received one or two doses of rubella-containing vaccine and have a rubella serum IgG levels that is not clearly positive should be administered one additional dose of MMR vaccine, with a maximum of three doses.
  2. After this additional dose, they do not need to be retested for serologic evidence of rubella immunity.
  3. Since MMR is a live vaccine, the additional dose should not be given during pregnancy or within a month of when you plan to get pregnant. You can get it while you are breastfeeding though.

How much should you be concerned about a negative rubella titer?

Although congenital rubella syndrome is not uncommon in other countries that don’t routinely vaccinate for rubella, there has not been a case of congenital rubella syndrome in the United States since – 2017.

That’s right, we have actually had two cases of congenital rubella syndrome in the US this year! In past years, these cases have all been linked to pregnant women becoming infected outside the US though, as there are thought to be very few rubella infections locally.

And two cases is a far cry from when rubella caused 2,100 neonatal deaths and 20,000 infants to be born with congenital rubella syndrome during an epidemic in the mid-1960s, before the first rubella vaccine was available.

That’s because vaccines work.

Wait, then why do some of these folks have a negative titer when they are tested?

While the easy answer is to say that they aren’t immune, it is more complicated than that. For example, some of the negative results could be false negatives (a negative test result that really should be positive). Others could possibly have low antibody levels, but they are still immune. Still, since one dose of a rubella containing vaccine is only about 97% effective, some of them could be non-responders.

Will a second or third booster dose of vaccine help increase your antibody levels? Yes, but in this situation, they will likely just rise temporarily. The second or third dose of MMR isn’t technically a booster dose, but rather a dose for those who didn’t respond to the previous doses, particularly for the measles component.

Avoiding Rubella

With a negative rubella titer, especially if you have not been previously vaccinated with one or more rubella-containing vaccines, you should likely try to avoid anyone who might have rubella.

There aren’t a lot of guidelines on how to avoid rubella though.

If you want to avoid rubella, avoid folks who aren't vaccinated against rubella.
If you want to avoid rubella, avoid folks who aren’t vaccinated against rubella. Photo courtesy of PHIL

That probably surprises you, especially with all of the information out there on how to avoid the flu, measles, mumps, and other infectious diseases, but it shouldn’t.

Symptoms of a rubella infection can include swollen lymph glands, low grade fever, a mild case of pink eye, and a red rash that can be hard to see, unless the person is overheated, like after a bath. Most importantly, people with rubella can be contagious for another few weeks, even as all of the symptoms have gone away. Also, like most viral infections, they were contagious for a few days even before they developed their first symptoms. And, believe it or not, some people with rubella might have no symptoms at all and still be contagious.

So how do you avoid someone who doesn’t even know that they are sick and are still contagious?

You basically want to try and away from anyone who might become sick and contagious…

While that sounds impossible, avoiding kids and adults who are intentionally unvaccinated, especially those who are intentionally unvaccinated and have recently traveled out of the country, can be a good start.

And like someone with a medical exemptions to getting vaccinated, if you have been vaccinated and lost your immunity to rubella, feel free to hide in the herd. This is one of the reasons everyone gets vaccinated!

What to Know About Rubella Titers

Get vaccinated and follow the latest guidelines if you are pregnant and your rubella titer is negative.

More on Rubella Titers and Immunity

The Value and Cost Savings of Getting Vaccinated

We often hear a lot about the benefits of vaccines.

Even the schools were closed in San Antonio when polio came to Texas in 1946.
How much would it cost to close all of the schools in a big city today?

Well, most of us do.

But can getting vaccinated really help save us money?

Cost Savings of Getting Vaccinated

Vaccines are expensive, so it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to many people that saving money is one of the big benefits of getting vaccinated.

That’s just because vaccines work so well.

“Analyses showed that routine childhood immunization among members of the 2009 US birth cohort will prevent ∼42 000 early deaths and 20 million cases of disease, with net savings of $13.5 billion in direct costs and $68.8 billion in total societal costs, respectively.”

Zhou et al on Economic Evaluation of the Routine Childhood Immunization Program in the United States, 2009

Few of us remember the pre-vaccine era when there were polio and diphtheria hospitals and “pest houses” at the edge of town.

We don’t remember when outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases would close schools and these diseases were more deadly, not because they were more severe, but simply because they were more common.

Costs Associated With Getting Sick

If we don’t remember these diseases and outbreaks, we certainly don’t remember how much it cost to control and treat them.

We should though.

Just look at how much it costs to control the recent measles outbreaks that continue to plague us.

“The estimated total number of personnel hours for the 16 outbreaks ranged from 42,635 to 83,133 and the corresponding total estimated costs for the public response accrued to local and state public health departments ranged from $2.7 million to $5.3 million US dollars.”

Ortega-Sanchez on The economic burden of sixteen measles outbreaks on United States public health departments in 2011

Not including the direct costs for outpatient visits and inpatient care, recent outbreaks have cost anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 per case to contain. Why the difference? Localized outbreaks, like in a church group or among a single family, will be easier and less expensive to contain, as they will likely involve fewer contacts to track down to see if they were exposed and are already vaccinated.

Again, these costs don’t include the costs of going to your doctor or the ER because your child is sick, getting hospitalized, or lab tests, etc.

It also doesn’t include the costs associated with living under quarantine, which is happening in many of the recent outbreaks.

Getting sick is expensive.

How much is a liver transplant?

How much does it cost to treat someone with cervical cancer?

How much does it take to care for a child with congenital rubella syndrome?

How do anti-vax folks usually counter this important message?

They typically say that taking care of a vaccine-injured child is expensive too. While that can be true, the problem is with their idea of what constitutes a vaccine injury. While vaccines are not 100% safe and they can rarely cause serious or even life-threatening reactions, most of what they describe as vaccine-induced diseases, from autism to SIDS, are not actually associated with vaccines.

The Value of Vaccination

So yes, getting vaccinated is cost effective.

“Cost-effectiveness analysis has become a standard method to use in estimating how much value an intervention offers relative to its costs, and it has become an influential element in decision making. However, the application of cost-effectiveness analysis to vaccination programs fails to capture the full contribution such a program offers to the community. Recent literature has highlighted how cost-effectiveness analysis can neglect the broader economic impact of vaccines.”

Luyten et al on The Social Value Of Vaccination Programs: Beyond Cost- Effectiveness

The value of getting vaccinated goes way beyond saving money though.

Most of the ways this has been studied in the past still leaves out a lot of important things, including:

  • increased productivity later in life following vaccination
  • improved cognitive and educational outcomes
  • community-level health gains through herd effects
  • prevention of antibiotic resistance
  • vaccination-related benefits to macroeconomic factors and political stability
  • furthering moral, social, and ethical aims

Why are these important?

“Vaccination has greatly reduced the burden of infectious diseases. Only clean water, also considered to be a basic human right, performs better. Paradoxically, a vociferous antivaccine lobby thrives today in spite of the undeniable success of vaccination programmes against formerly fearsome diseases that are now rare in developed countries.”

Andre et al on Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide

If you are making a decision to get vaccinated vs. trying to hide in the herd, you want to have all of the information about the benefits of vaccines, not just about the risks, or what you might think are risks.

Vaccines Are Expensive

Although getting vaccinated is certainly cost-effective, that doesn’t erase the fact that vaccines are expensive.

If they weren’t so expensive, then we likely still wouldn’t have so many deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases in the developing world, where the problem is access to vaccines, not vaccine-hesitant parents.

“We conclude that the vaccination portion of the business model for primary care pediatric practices that serve private-pay patients results in little or no profit from vaccine delivery. When losses from vaccinating publicly insured children are included, most practices lose money.”

Coleman on Net Financial Gain or Loss From Vaccination in Pediatric Medical Practices

Parents should also be aware that vaccines are expensive for the average pediatrician too, who no matter what anti-vax folks may claim about bonuses, aren’t making much or any money on vaccinating kids.

And because vaccines work, pediatricians also don’t make as much money when vaccinated kids don’t get diarrhea and dehydration that is prevented by the rotavirus vaccine, recurrent ear infections that are prevented by Prevnar, or a high fever from measles, etc., all things that would typically trigger one or more office visits.

It should be clear that the only reason that pediatricians “push vaccines” is because they are one of the greatest achievements in public health.

A great achievement at a great value.

What to Know About the Cost Savings of Getting Vaccinated

There is no question that there is great value in getting fully vaccinated on time and that getting immunized is a very cost effective way to keep kids healthy.

More on the Cost Savings of Getting Vaccinated

100 Myths About Vaccines

Are there really 100 myths about vaccines that folks push to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids?

To make a long story short - flu vaccines don't contain a vaginal spermicide.
That flu vaccines contain a vaginal spermicide is a new myth being pushed by anti-vaccine folks.

Let’s see…

Actually, when you start to think about it, there are hundreds, as the modern anti-vaccine movement moves the goalposts and continuously comes up with new anti-vaccine talking points.

100 Myths About Vaccines

  1. My intentionally unvaccinated kids don’t put your kids at risk. – Of course they do, because some kids are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated, some kids can’t be vaccinated, including those with immune system problems, and vaccines don’t work 100% of the time.
  2. Vaccines do cause autism. It’s the MMR vaccine. – Of all the competing theories of how vaccines are associated with autism (even though they aren’t), Wakefield‘s theory that it is the combined MMR vaccine was the first.
  3. Recently vaccinated kids shed virus for weeks or months and can infect unvaccinated kids. – While shedding is real for some live vaccines, like oral polio and rotavirus, it is rarely a problem.
  4. Vaccines don’t even work. – While some folks are worried about risks and side effects, others don’t even believe that vaccines work – ever. That’s understandable though, as it explains how they deal with the cognitive dissonance of leaving their kids unprotected from potentially life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases. So instead of vaccines eradicating or controlling diseases, they come up with theories about improved sanitation and better nutrition doing all of the work. But of course, we know that vaccines work.
  5. It’s good to get measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. – While some people think that getting measles and polio was once a welcome rite of passage for kids, they seem to forget that vaccine-preventable diseases are life-threatening and can leave survivors with serious disabilities.
  6. The shingles vaccine causes shingles. – The shingles vaccine won’t cause you to develop shingles, but if you got it and never had chicken pox, then like the chicken pox vaccine, it is thought that the shingles vaccine could theoretically cause a latent infection that reactivates = shingles.
  7. Vaccines do cause autism. It’s thimerosal. – Vaccines are not associated with autism.
  8. Getting too many vaccines too soon can overwhelm an infant’s immature immune system. Not true. Considering all of the germs that they are challenged with on a daily basis, it is easy to see that an infant’s immune system can handle all of the vaccines on the immunization and much more.
  9. Package inserts for vaccines admit that they cause autism. – While Tripedia, a DTaP vaccine that was discontinued in 2011, did list autism in the adverse reactions section part of the package insert, it also stated that “it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship.”
  10. Vaccines aren’t safe because the package insert says that they aren’t evaluated for mutagenicity, carcinogenicity and impairment of fertility. – All necessary pre-clinical or nonclinical testing is done on vaccines and their components.
  11. Big Pharma, or the pharmaceutical industry, is the one making all of the decisions about vaccines, including what goes in them, when you should get them, and deciding if they are really safe. – Of course there is no world-wide conspiracy about vaccines led by the pharmaceutical industry that involves doctors, health departments, the CDC, and the WHO, etc.
  12. Vaccines still contain mercury. The Kennedy Vaccine Gambit
  13. Antifreeze is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – Antifreeze (ethylene glycol) is not, and has never been an ingredient in vaccines. Some vaccines do contain a similar sounding ingredient, 2-phenoxyethanol, but it isn’t antifreeze. Saying that some vaccines contain an ingredient that sounds like antifreeze isn’t as scary though.
  14. Alternative immunization schedules are better. The Bob Sears Snare
  15. Vaccines contain aborted fetal tissue. – While some vaccines are made with fetal embryo fibroblast cells from cell lines that are derived (the original cells have been copied over and over again) from two electively terminated pregnancies in the 1960s, the cells are removed from the final vaccine and no aborted fetal tissue is in any vaccine.
  16. Many people don’t vaccinate. – There is a very vocal minority of people who do their best to push misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines and vaccine dangers, but except for pockets of susceptibles and clusters of unvaccinated kids and adults, most people are vaccinated.
  17. The CDC says that you should stop breastfeeding to boost vaccine efficacy. – They have never said that. Neither has the WHO or any other group of experts. This myth about breastfeeding relates to a study done that suggested that delaying breastfeeding for an hour after getting the rotavirus vaccine might help it work better in developing countries.
  18. Vaccines aren’t tested. – Vaccines are well tested for both safety and efficacy before they are approved and are added to the immunization schedule.
  19. Herd immunity isn’t real. – Understanding just how wrong anti-vaccine folks are about herd immunity will help you go a long way towards understanding how they get most things about vaccines wrong. Herd immunity from vaccines is real.
  20. Vaccines are contaminated with brain-eating ameobas. – Viera Scheibner is a micropaleontologist who claims that that it is ‘well-established’ that vaccines are contaminated with amoebas. They aren’t.
  21. I have a link arsenal from Pubmed that show vaccines are dangerous. – PubMed is simply an index of articles in medical journals. Any medical journals, even they predatory, pay to publish medical journals. Being in Pubmed doesn’t mean that it is a good study. And cherry picking articles and abstracts from Pubmed doesn’t mean that you have done your research about vaccines or that you have found any proof that vaccines aren’t safe. It probably just means that you need to do a little more research.
  22. The vaccine schedule has ballooned since 1983 and kids now get too many shots! – While the vaccine schedule has certainly grown over time, that is simply because kids today are protected from many more diseases. While kids got fewer vaccines in 1983, that was also the pre-vaccine era for Hib, hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, rotavirus, hepatitis A, HPV, and chicken pox, etc.
  23. Package inserts for vaccines admit that they cause SIDS. – Tripedia, a DTaP vaccine that was discontinued in 2011, does list SIDS in the adverse reactions section part of the package insert, but also states that “it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship.”
  24. The US has higher infant mortality rates than other industrialized countries because we give more vaccines. – Higher infant mortality rate in the US than some other industrialized countries are thought to be because we use different methods to calculate the infant mortality rate. They are also at the lowest level ever.
  25. MSG is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – MSG is an ingredient in some vaccines, but it is safe and not toxic.
  26. Since adults don’t get vaccines or boosters, there can’t be herd immunity. – Most adults either already have natural immunity or have already been vaccinated, so this isn’t true. There are actually very few booster shots that adults need, but seniors do need a few extra vaccines.
  27. Sick people can just stay home, so it doesn’t matter if they are vaccinated. – That’s kind of how quarantines work, but the main problem with this theory is that with many diseases, including some that are the most contagious, you can actually be contagious even before you show symptoms and you know you are sick. That’s why they often talk about people being at school, on the train, shopping at Walmart, or even at the beach when they have measles and have exposed others in an outbreak.
  28. The media just scares people about outbreaks. – The media, with their vaccine scare stories, did once influence a lot of parents about vaccines, but it was more to make them afraid to get their kids vaccinated and protected. Alerting people of an outbreak in their area isn’t a scare tactic or hype. It is one of the ways to help control outbreaks, so that folks know when a disease is present in their community.
  29. Vaccinations are not immunizations. – While kind of catchy, like other anti-vaccine slogans, it is meaningless. Vaccines work.
  30. There is no Pharma liability. You can’t sue if a child is injured by a vaccine. – You can sue, you just have to go through Vaccine Court first.
  31. Many religions are against vaccines. – Very few religions actually object to immunizations, which makes it very surprising how many folks get religious vaccine exemptions.
  32. Measles and other vaccine preventable diseases aren’t that serious anymore. – They, of course, can still be life-threatening, even in this day of modern medicine.
  33. Over 99% of vaccine side effects from vaccines are not reported by doctors to VAERS. – That’s not really true. Although most common side effects probably are underreported, more moderate and serious side effects are reported. For example, one study found that while a rash after measles, a known mild, side effect, was not commonly reported, vaccine-associated polio was often reported to VAERS. It is also imported to keep in mind that VAERS isn’t the only way that the safety of vaccines is monitored.
  34. Many experts are against vaccines. – The so-called experts of the anti-vaccine movement are mostly doctors who are practicing way out of their field of expertise, including many who are not medical doctors, or whose ideas are not supported by the great majority of real experts on vaccines, infectious disease, and immunology.
  35. Vaccinated kids cause most outbreaks. – Not true. Although vaccines don’t always work 100% of the time and so vaccinated kids sometimes get caught up in outbreaks, they are not the cause of most outbreaks.
  36. Infants have an immature immune system and are too young to be vaccinated. – Not true. Although a baby’s immune system is immature, as compared to older kids and adults, vaccines work well to help protect them as their immune system continues to develop and mature.
  37. Vaccines cause shaken baby syndrome. – Vaccines do not cause shaken baby syndrome.
  38. The chicken pox vaccine has caused an epidemic of shingles. – Not true. It has been shown that the rise in shingles cases started before we started routinely giving chicken pox vaccines, did not continue to increase after we started routinely giving chicken pox vaccines, and also increased in countries that don’t give the chicken pox vaccines.
  39. The United States gives more vaccines than any other country. – While there would be nothing wrong with that, as it would mean we were protecting our kids from more vaccine-preventable diseases, if you take any time to look at the immunization schedules from other countries, you can see it isn’t true.
  40. Pediatricians can get up to $3 million in bonuses for vaccinating kids. – Pediatricians are not getting big bonuses, bribes, or kickbacks to vaccinate kids.
  41. Glyphosate is contaminating our vaccines and will help make 50% kids autistic by 2025. – Glyphosate is not in vaccines and Stephanie Seneff‘s theory that 1/2 of kids will be autistic in 8 years doesn’t make much sense either.
  42. Formaldehyde is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – While formaldehyde is an ingredient in vaccines, it is also naturally found in all of our bodies and in some foods. The formaldehyde in vaccines is not toxic.
  43. Vaccines aren’t tested together. – Yes, they are. Pediarix (combo vaccine with DTaP, hepB, and IPV) was tested with Hib and Prevnar and the hepatitis A vaccine was tested together with DTaP, IPV, Hib, and hepatitis B. Most vaccination combinations have been tested together, including the flu shot.
  44. I’m not anti-vaccine, I’m pro-safe vaccine. – You can call yourself whatever you want, either pro-safe vaccine or pro-vaccine choice, but if you push anti-vaccine propaganda, then you are anti-vaccine.
  45. It can be safer to wait to get vaccinated. The Jay Gordon Maneuver
  46. $3.5 billion in vaccine court payouts prove that vaccine injuries are real. – No one says that vaccines are 100% safe or that vaccine injuries aren’t real. It is also important to keep in mind that the $3.5 billion in vaccine court payouts have been since 1988, during which billions of doses of vaccines have been given.
  47. Vaccines cause resistance in viruses and bacteria. – Not true. Vaccines are not causing an increase in vaccine-resistant bacteria or viruses and can actually help us fight the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  48. Unvaccinated kids are healthier. – A large study has shown that unvaccinated kids are not healthier than those who are vaccinated, they just get more vaccine-preventable diseases.
  49. People never used to worry about measles. – A Brady Bunch episode about measles doesn’t mean that people weren’t worried about measles in the old days. There are plenty of newspaper headlines describing how measles epidemic once closed entire school districts for weeks at a time. When a measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, a headline on the front page of the New York Times read “City in Grip of Measles Epidemic; Unusually Severe Siege Forecast.” And remember when Lassie had to save Timmy when he had measles? Sounds like they were worried…
  50. Epigenetics explains many vaccine injuries. – No, it doesn’t.
  51. The one-size-fits-all immunization schedule makes kids sick. – Vaccines are not given using any kind of one-size-fits-all policy. Flexibility of when some vaccines can be given and the existence of contraindications and medical exemptions make that clear to most people.
  52. Herd immunity doesn’t apply to vaccines. – Uh. Yes it does.
  53. Doctors don’t learn anything about vaccines. – Doctors learn a lot about vaccines and vaccine-preventable disease. What they do need to learn more about are the latest anti-vaccine talking points, so that they can readily address your concerns about vaccines and things that you might have read or heard that have scared you about vaccines.
  54. The American Academy of Pediatrics “recommends that parents use the availability of HPV vaccines to usher in a discussion on human sexuality in a way consistent with their culture and values at a time when they determine their child is ready to receive that information.” It’s a fringe group of pediatricians, the American College of Pediatricians who said this, not the AAP, who recommends that all kids get vaccinated and protected with the HPV vaccines.
  55. Vaccines are made for adults, not kids. – Vaccines are made for both kids and adults. Some vaccines even have different formulations for kids than for adults, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and flu shots, etc. And think about how the DTaP (kids) and Tdap (teens and adults) shots are different, but protect against the same diseases. But vaccines work locally, where the shot was given, which is why it doesn’t really matter that kids or adults of different sizes get the same dose.
  56. The HPV vaccine just encourages kids to have sex. – Studies have confirmed that HPV vaccines are safe and they don’t encourage kids to unprotected sex, one of many HPV vaccine myths.
  57. Aluminum replaced thimerosal as the latest toxic ingredient in vaccines. – Aluminum in vaccines is not toxic and as an adjuvant, it did not replace the thimerosal, a preservative, in any vaccines.
  58. Hepatitis B is a STD vaccine, so newborn babies don’t need it. – Tragically, many infants still get perinatal hepatitis B infections because of missed opportunities to get vaccinated and when they are exposed in non-high risk situations. Don’t skip your baby’s hepatitis B shot.
  59. Correlation equals causation. – Many people think that their child is vaccine injured because they showed symptoms right around the time they received a vaccine. They correlate getting the vaccine with causing the vaccine injury. The correct phrase isn’t correlation equals causation though, it is “correlation does not imply causation. Just because two things seem to be related by time doesn’t mean that one caused the other.
  60. SV40 contamination of vaccines causes cancer. – While the SV40 virus did contaminate some early vaccines, it has been shown that this contamination did not cause cancer.
  61. Dr. Julie Gerberding, the first woman to lead the CDC, admitted that vaccines cause autism during an interview with Sanjay Gupta on CNN. – While discussing the Hannah Polling decision, Dr. Julie Gerberding did not say that vaccines can cause autism. She even went out of her way to mention all of the studies that “have concluded that there really is no association between vaccines and autism.”
  62. Vaccines don’t work to get rid of any diseases. They just make the diseases disappear by changing their names. – This has to be one of the silliest myths about vaccines. Yes, some folks believe that smallpox wasn’t eradicated. It was instead renamed to monkeypox. Polio became acute flaccid paralysis. And measles became roseola. Of course, that didn’t happen because vaccines do work.
  63. The first deaf Miss America suffered a vaccine injury. – Not true. While they initially blamed her being deaf on the DTP vaccine, it turns out that she had a reaction to the antibiotic Gentamycin that she was receiving for a Hib infection, a now vaccine-preventable disease.
  64. Diane Harper was a lead researcher for the HPV vaccine who came out against the HPV vaccines. – Diane Harper‘s comments about the HPV vaccine have been overblown and mischaracterized. She supports the HPV vaccines and believes that they are safe.
  65. Vaccines don’t work against pertactin-negative pertussis bacteria. – While we are finding more pertactin-negative pertussis bacteria, this doesn’t seem to be why we are seeing more pertussis or whooping cough. Pertussis vaccines work against other components of the pertussis bacteria besides pertactin and pertussis vaccines continue to be effective against pertactin-negative Bordetella pertussis bacteria.
  66. There are graphs and charts that prove that vaccines didn’t save us and that vaccines don’t work – Those mortality graphs are pure propaganda and do not show how cases of vaccine preventable diseases (morbidity) were not affected by overall improvements in mortality rates in the early 20th century (a lot of people still got sick even as more of them survived) or how the effects of improved sanitation, nutrition, and health care peaked by the 1940s (for example, they use death rates instead of just absolute numbers of deaths to hide the fact that measles killed about 400 people each year in 1960).  Vaccines work.
  67. Johns Hopkins warns cancer patients to avoid children who were recently vaccinated. – They did once, but Johns Hopkins and other hospitals updated their instructions as new information became available. Hospitals no longer warn patients about restricting exposure to people who have recently been vaccinated.
  68. Andrew Wakefield was proven right. – Wakefield has not been proven right. Studies have never confirmed his findings. He is still not allowed to practice medicine in the UK.
  69. The shocking revelations of the CDC Whistleblower proves that vaccines cause autism. – What was supposed to be the biggest anti-vaccine conspiracy story of all time, the CDC Whistleblower, must have been the biggest let down for the anti-vaccine movement. He didn’t really blow the whistle on anything or anyone and didn’t even appear in Vaxxed, the CDC Whistleblower movie! While being secretly recorded, he basically complained about the way his coauthors of a study on vaccines and autism dealt with some data that he felt was statistically significant.
  70. The Leicester Method proves that good sanitation and quarantines – not the smallpox vaccine – eradicated smallpox. – In addition to quarantines, they used vaccines in Leicester. They just didn’t use universal vaccination. They used ring vaccination – making sure all of the contacts of the person with smallpox got a smallpox vaccine. The Leicester Method of dealing with smallpox does not support the idea that smallpox was eradicated solely with good sanitation and quarantining folks with smallpox.
  71. That vaccines have been legally called unavoidably unsafe means that they are dangerous. – Not true.
  72. Vaccinating a child is like taking a child out of their perfectly functioning carseat and strapping them into a seat with dental floss. – Actually, the proper analogy would be that vaccinating a child is like protecting them with an age appropriate car seat. Skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines is like driving them around without a car seat or seat belts, so that they are unprotected if you get in a car accident.
  73. The HPV vaccine isn’t safe, isn’t even necessary, and is probably the most dangerous vaccine every made. – Of course this is not true. Fortunately, more and more parents are coming to understand that the over-the-top anti-vaccine rhetoric about the HPV vaccine isn’t true. The HPV vaccines are safe and necessary and they work to prevent cancer.
  74. Parents are losing their choice about vaccines and are being forced to vaccinate their kids. – While slogans about choice are catchy, new vaccine laws and mandates do not force anyone to get vaccinated.
  75. Vaccines cause ADHD. – Yes, you can add ADHD to the long list of so-called vaccine-induced diseases, but like the others, it isn’t true. Vaccines do not cause ADHD.
  76. Polio epidemics were caused by spraying of the pesticide DDT. – The only connection between DDT and polio is that some folks were so scared of polio, that once an outbreak came to town, because they didn’t know what caused it yet, they sprayed with DDT thinking it might be spread by mosquitoes. So polio first and then DDT spraying.
  77. You should skip or delay vaccinating your premature baby. – Except in some situations when preterm babies weigh less than 2000g and mom is known to be hepatitis B negative, your preterm baby should be vaccinated according to the standard immunization schedule.
  78. There are no double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials for vaccines. – Placebos are used in many vaccine trials and there are many double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials for vaccines.
  79. Homeopathic vaccines are a safe and effective alternative to real vaccines. – While they might not cause many side effects, homeopathic vaccines or nosodes aren’t going to do much else either. They certainly aren’t going to protect your child from any vaccine-preventable diseases.
  80. You should follow a Paleo vaccine schedule. – Like other non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules, the Paleo vaccine schedule is a made-up alternative to the standard immunization schedule and will leave your kids unprotected from vaccine-preventative diseases.
  81. People who are anti-vaccine don’t hurt autistic families. – While I’m sure they tell themselves that, in addition to pushing the idea that autistic kids are damaged by vaccines, there are many other ways that the anti-vaccine movement hurts autistic families.
  82. Vegans don’t vaccinate their kids. – While there are few vegan vaccines, most vegans do indeed vaccinate their kids.
  83. The measles vaccine doesn’t protect against all measles strains. – All currently used measles containing vaccines, including the MMR vaccine, do actually protect against all measles strains. There is only one main type of measles virus, despite the many small changes in the virus that can help us identify different strains and genotypes.
  84. There are over 100 vaccine/autism research papers that prove that vaccines cause autism. – No matter how high the count of research papers gets to, they still don’t support a link between vaccines and autism.
  85. The anti-vaccine movement is supported by science and research. – The beliefs of the anti-vaccine movement, from germ theory denialism to ideas about detoxing and chemtrails, are only supported by pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.
  86. A tetanus shot won’t help after you have already been cut, stabbed, or bitten. – Well, if you are fully vaccinated, you might not even need a tetanus shot after a cut, because you are already protected. If you are unvaccinated or if it has been more than 5 years since your last shot, a tetanus shot and tetanus immune globulin will indeed work to protect against tetanus spores germinating, growing and producing their exotoxin that produces the symptoms of tetanus.
  87. Vaccine immunity isn’t long lasting. – While that is true for some vaccines, vaccines do protect you during critical times, in most cases they do provide long lasting protection.
  88. Immigrants and refugees are spreading disease in the United States and are putting us at risk for a new pandemic disease outbreak. – Immigrants and refugees are not spreading disease in the United States.
  89. Parents have to pay the Vaccine Excise Tax to fund the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund. – The Vaccine Excise Tax is actually a tax that the U.S. Department of the Treasury collects from vaccine manufacturers.
  90. Pediatricians are just vaccine pushers. – If that were true, then how come pediatricians don’t push all of the FDA approved vaccines on kids, such as the adenovirus vaccine, BCG vaccine, typhoid vaccine, or yellow fever vaccine?
  91. Chiropractors aren’t anti-vaccine. – Maybe some aren’t, but most chiropractors seem to believe in germ theory denialism, push anti-vaccine talking points, and don’t vaccinate their own kids.
  92. There are 300 new vaccines in the pipeline. – While new vaccines are always being researched and developed, we are not getting 300 new vaccines anytime soon. At least 1/3 of those are therapeutic vaccines for cancer. And 1/4 are for the same four infectious diseases – HIV, flu, RSV, and Ebola. So no, we aren’t getting 300 new vaccines.
  93. Most celebrities don’t vaccinate their kids. – While anti-vaccine celebrities seem to make the news a lot, there are many celebrities who advocate for vaccines.
  94. Breastfeeding is better than vaccines at preventing infections. – While breastfeeding is great and has a lot of benefits, including providing some passive immunity, it won’t protect your child from most vaccine-preventable diseases. Breastmilk contains IgA antibodies, and not the IgG antibodies that vaccines trigger in our bodies and which do cross the placenta and protect our babies for a short time. Breastmilk can help protect a child against some viruses and bacteria that cause diarrhea and respiratory infections, but it is not better than vaccines at preventing vaccine-preventable diseases.
  95. Ingredients in vaccines are toxic because they are injected directly into a child’s bloodstream and aren’t ingested and filtered by the body’s natural defenses. – The ingested vs injected argument comes up a lot, but doesn’t make much sense. For one thing, vaccines aren’t injected into the bloodstream.
  96. I used Google University to research vaccines, just like other medical professionals use google to look up medical information. – While it is true that many medical professionals are likely turning to the internet more than textbooks when they need to look something up, they are often using online medical textbooks or other reputable sites. They aren’t cherry picking information from sites that simply confirm their biases against vaccines.
  97. Vaccines aren’t tested for use in pregnancy. – They are and pregnant women should get a seasonal flu vaccine and a Tdap vaccine each and every pregnancy.
  98. DNA in vaccines can cause autism. – While highly fragmented (mostly destroyed) DNA has been found in some vaccines, it can’t cause harm.
  99. The Amish don’t get autism. – The Amish do get autism. They also do vaccinate – sometimes. They also get vaccine-preventable diseases as we saw in the large Ohio measles outbreak of 2014.
  100. The flu shot contains a vaginal spermicide. – It doesn’t.

Get educated about vaccines so you don’t get taken in by any of these myths.

Vaccines work. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are necessary.

More On Vaccine Myths

 

Vaccines are Necessary

We know that vaccines are safe, even if they can have some side effects and risks.

And we know that vaccines work, even if they don’t work 100% of the time.

In fact, vaccines work so well, that they have eliminated or controlled many of the vaccine-preventable diseases that we still get vaccinated against.

Are Vaccines Still Necessary?

So that leaves some people asking themselves – even if the benefits of vaccines far outweigh their risks, are vaccines still necessary?

“So what I did on my schedule is, I took a more logical look at hepatitis B, and I realized that babies have no risk of catching this disease, so let’s not do the hep B vaccine while a baby’s young and small and more vulnerable.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears on Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

After all, most of us don’t travel to developing countries or do other things to put ourselves or our kids at risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease, right?

And we probably don’t have conditions that put us at high risk of getting sick either?

So isn’t it safe to just skip or delay many of the shots on the routine immunization schedule?

Shouldn’t some of them just be optional now?

Vaccines Are Necessary

Alternative vaccine schedules? Optional vaccines? No risk of getting diseases? Those are the arguments you will see on many anti-vaccine websites and forums, but they certainly aren’t logical arguments.

“The reason I delay the polio vaccine on my alternative schedule is that we don’t have polio in the United States. We haven’t had it here for over 30 years. We’ve been very fortunate because the vaccination program for polio has been so successful, now we’re reaping the rewards of not having to worry about this disease.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears on Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

Did you know that an unvaccinated group of Amish children got infected with polio in 2005?

Or that an otherwise healthy, unvaccinated 22-year-old U.S. resident became infected with polio vaccine virus, developing paralytic polio, while traveling in Costa Rica in a university-sponsored study-abroad program in 2005? It turns out that the granddaughter of the host family that she was staying with lived next door and had recently been vaccinated with the OPV vaccine, which does shed, and in this case caused her to develop vaccine-associated paralytic polio.

And did you know that there was a lethal case of vaccine-derived poliomelitis in Minnesota in 2009?

Apparently Dr. Bob didn’t either.

“We know that a disease that is apparently under control can suddenly return, because we have seen it happen, in countries like Japan, Australia, and Sweden. Here is an example from Japan. In 1974, about 80% of Japanese children were getting pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. That year there were only 393 cases of whooping cough in the entire country, and not a single pertussis-related death. Then immunization rates began to drop, until only about 10% of children were being vaccinated. In 1979, more than 13,000 people got whooping cough and 41 died. When routine vaccination was resumed, the disease numbers dropped again.”

CDC on What Would Happen If We Stopped Vaccinations?

But while polio is now on the brink of elimination, most other vaccine-preventable diseases are not. And that is why we see outbreaks any time vaccination rates drop:

  • measles – in addition to the outbreaks in the United States, there have been much bigger outbreaks across Europe, with much deadlier consequences
  • pertussis – yes, some of our pertussis outbreaks are because of waning immunity and occur in fully vaccinated children, but there were even larger outbreaks in Japan, Sweden, Italy, Ireland, Australia, and other countries in the 1970s and 1980s when immunization rates dropped, cases soared, and children died.
  • diphtheria – few people even know what diphtheria is anymore, but it is still around and causes outbreaks when immunization rates drop.
  • rubella – want to know what happens when you don’t vaccinate for rubella? just look at Japan – they had 14,357 cases of rubella and at least 31 cases of congenital rubella syndrome in 2013.
  • Hib – a 2008 outbreak in Minnesota during a temporary vaccine shortage likely reflected “increasing carriage and transmission affecting those with suboptimal primary series vaccination coverage, or a weakening of herd immunity”
  • tetanus – although tetanus isn’t contagious, we are seeing more cases in kids and pregnant women who aren’t vaccinated, as the bacteria which causes tetanus is present in spores in dirt and dust almost everywhere
  • polio – although polio is now endemic in only three countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, there are other countries where outbreaks can still occur, including the DR Congo and Syrian Arab Republic and many other high risk countries. This includes outbreaks of circulating vaccine derived polio virus, which increased this year in non-endemic countries, especially Syria because of years of poor immunization rates because of war.

Vaccines are necessary to avoid these kinds of outbreaks.

What Happens When We Don’t Vaccinate?

It should be very clear that everyone can’t try to hide in the herd.

We know what happens when  too many people don’t vaccinate their kids.

At least those of us who understand herd immunity know what happens…

In Ukraine, for example, there was a “massive epidemic” of diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

“This epidemic, primarily affecting adults in most Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union, demonstrates that in a modern society diphtheria can still spread explosively and cause extensive illness and death.”

Diphtheria in the Former Soviet Union: Reemergence of a Pandemic Disease

In Ukraine alone, there were 17,387 cases of diphtheria and 646 deaths from 1992 to 1997. Also high, were cases of measles (over 23,000 cases in 1993) and pertussis (almost 7,000 cases in 1993).

Vaccine preventable diseases are just a plane ride away.
Vaccine preventable diseases are just a plane ride away.

Need a more recent example?

Just look at the tragedy unfolding in Venezuela. In addition to all of the hardships the people are facing, because of a weakened health system, poor surveillance, and a lack of preventative measures, including immunizations, they are seeing a rebound of diphtheria, measles, and other infectious diseases.

After being eliminated in 1992, there have been at least 450 cases of diphtheria in Venezuela since 2016 and at least 7 deaths.

Vaccines are necessary.

Vaccine-preventable diseases will come back if we stop vaccinating our kids.

And tragically, they aren’t yet gone in many parts of the world, even those that are well controlled in more developed countries. That’s why we often say that these diseases are ‘just a plane ride away.’

Just remember that the planes travel both ways. It isn’t just you traveling to high risk areas. Sometimes folks who are sick with vaccine preventable diseases bring them home and start outbreaks.

Get educated. Get vaccinated.

What to Know About Why Vaccines Are Necessary

Until a disease is eradicated, vaccines at herd immunity levels remain necessary to keep it from returning and causing outbreaks.

More About Why Vaccines Are Necessary

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What Are the Benefits of Vaccines?

Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

They are neither 100% safe nor 100% effective.

That doesn’t make them any less necessary though.

It’s easy to see why when you look at all of the benefits that vaccines have given us.

Perceptions of Risks vs Benefits of Vaccines

One of the reasons that some parents become vaccine-hesitant is that they forget about the many benefits of vaccine.

That’s not surprising, as the better vaccines work, the less obvious their benefits are to everyone. After all, few people remember what it was like in the pre-vaccine era.

A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, as this front page NYTimes article reports.
A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, as this New York Times article reports.

That makes it easy to for some people to downplay the benefits of vaccines.

Unfortunately, at the same time, some parents might over-estimate the risks of vaccines. And that makes it even easier for them to justify a decision to skip or delay their child’s vaccines.

What Are the Benefits of Vaccines?

For most of us, the greatest benefit of any vaccine is that it keeps us from worrying that our kids will get a vaccine-preventable disease. If they do get sick, we don’t worry that every fever is measles or that every cough is pertussis either.

“It is also much cheaper to prevent a disease than to treat it. In a 2005 study on the economic impact of routine childhood immunization in the United States, researchers estimated that for every dollar spent, the vaccination program saved more than $5 in direct costs and approximately $11 in additional costs to society.”

NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Among the other benefits of available vaccines are that:

The benefits of vaccines become more obvious when folks stop vaccinating.

immunization-program-stages
As more people are vaccinated and diseases disappear, they forget how bad those diseases are, skip or delay getting their vaccines, and trigger outbreaks. Photo by WHO

What happens?

Invariably, we start to see outbreaks.

Then they quickly remember why vaccines are necessary, vaccines rates go up, and the outbreaks get under control.

And everyone understands that all of great benefits of vaccines far outweigh any of their small risks. They also begin to hopefully understand that not everyone can attempt to hide in the herd or follow an alternative immunization schedule. That too can simply lead to more outbreaks, as the number of unvaccinated folks increases, at least temporarily.

What to Know About the Benefits of Vaccines

The great benefits of vaccines, which include that they have saved millions of lives, far outweigh any small risks.

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