Is it still OK to “debate” vaccines and vaccine safety?
What’s not up for debate anymore is the idea that vaccines aren’t safe or necessary or that vaccines don’t work.
Folks who use those arguments against vaccines aren’t debating, they are pushing anti-vaccine talking points.
What Are the Pro and Con Arguments for Vaccines?
It’s because vaccines aren’t perfect.
|Vaccines save lives.||Shots hurt.|
|Vaccines are cost effective.||Vaccines are expensive.|
|Vaccines work most of the time.||Vaccines aren’t 100% effective.|
|You are much more likely to get shingles after having a natural chickenpox infection.||You can get shingles after having the chickenpox vaccines.|
|Vaccine preventable diseases are much more likely to cause febrile seizures, non-febrile seizures, and worse.||Some vaccines cause febrile seizures.|
|Most vaccine side effects are mild and they prevent life-threatening diseases.||Vaccines aren’t 100% safe.|
|Vaccines can create herd immunity.||Some people can’t be vaccinated.|
|Kids can get protected against at least 16 vaccine-preventable diseases.||Kids get at least 13 different vaccines.|
|Immunity from some vaccine preventable diseases isn’t lifelong either and some diseases, like tetanus, don’t even provide immunity.||Immunity from some vaccines isn’t lifelong.|
|Some vaccine-preventable diseases, like polio, only provide protection against a single serotype, not against all forms of the disease (there are three serotypes of polio).||Some vaccines require booster doses.|
And sometimes it doesn’t make sense to recommend a vaccine, except in specific circumstances.
“A MenB vaccine series may be administered to adolescents and young adults aged 16–23 years to provide short-term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease. The preferred age for MenB vaccination is 16–18 years.”
ACIP on Use of Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccines in Adolescents and Young Adults: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 2015
The MenB vaccine, for example, unlike most other vaccines, only has a permissive recommendation – parents may get it for their kids, but they don’t have to.
“First-year college students living in residence halls should receive at least 1 dose of MenACWY before college entry. The preferred timing of the most recent dose is on or after their 16th birthday.”
ACIP on Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
In contrast, the recommendation for most other vaccines state that kids “should” receive them.
Why the difference?
Experts aren’t yet sure that the pros of the MenB vaccine, helping avoid MenB disease, outweigh the cons, which include the high cost of the vaccine, short duration of protection, and that it doesn’t cover all MenB subtypes. The cons aren’t about safety.
The Real Vaccine Cons
This is when it becomes helpful to understand that the word “con” has multiple definitions.
They also work hard to:
- Scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids by never mentioning the benefits of vaccines and overstating the side effects and risks of getting vaccinated.
- Downplay the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases and overstate the benefits of natural immunity over the protection you can get from vaccines.
- Make you think that vaccines don’t even work.
Of course, parents who have taken the time to get educated about vaccines don’t fall for any of these arguments.
What to Know About the Pro and Con Arguments for Vaccines
In any real debate, getting vaccinated and protected wins every time, because vaccines work and they are safe and necessary.
More About the Pro and Con Arguments for Vaccines
- The Vaccine “Debate”
- What do we do about politicians and physicians who promote antivaccine misinformation?
- Battling misinformed consent: How should we respond to the anti-vaccine movement?
- “Misinformed consent” rears its ugly head in Pediatrics
- Informed Consent and Vaccines
- Benefits vs. Risks of Vaccines
- The Modern American Vaccine Debate
- The vaccine debate has a real cost
- ACIP – Use of Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccines in Adolescents and Young Adults: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 2015
- ACIP – Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices