Did you know that the first method of inoculation was invented by Edward Jenner in 1796? This type of inoculation didn’t use the same methods that we know today, but it demonstrated the power of vaccines.
Although modern vaccines have been used safely for decades, there are a lot of myths about them. And these myths contribute to the growing numbers of children who aren’t fully protected by vaccines.
About 70% of American children ages 19-35 months receive the seven-vaccine series against childhood diseases. That leaves about 30% of young children who don't get fully vaccinated.
At Pediatric Care of Four Corners, our medical director, Eiman ElSayed, MD, wants you to feel empowered and know the truth about vaccinations, so you can feel confident protecting your children from childhood diseases.
Vaccines facts 101
Before we explore the myths, let’s first discuss what vaccines are and what they aren’t.
Vaccines are either a shot or a nasal spray that teach your child’s body how to fight off contagious diseases. Vaccines can contain inactive viruses, weakened forms of the virus, or biosynthetic materials, but they aren’t made of full-strength live viruses.
If a live virus is used, it is an attenuated (weakened) version so your child doesn’t get sick.
The vaccine introduces these germs into your child’s body to trigger the immune system to build immunity against these diseases. Your child builds immunity (or protection) against disease when their immune system creates antibodies. This process is known as immunization.
Exploring the myths about vaccines
Vaccines are a hot topic, and unfortunately, the myths (and even some partial truths) make the topic even murkier. Here are the most common myths and the explanations behind them.
Myth 1: Vaccines cause autism
This myth is often cited as the No. 1 reason parents delay or reject childhood vaccines. But the link between vaccines and autism is not rooted in truth.
This myth started in 1997 when Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon, published a paper in The Lancet suggesting the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella directly caused an increase in autism in children.
Understandably, this paper caused panic, but the connection has been debunked. The study lost its credibility due to procedural errors and conflicts of interest. The journal retracted the paper, and Wakefield lost his medical license.
Myth 2: Babies’ immune systems can’t handle multiple vaccines at once
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccinating your children on a particular schedule. Some parents fear that multiple vaccines at once might overload their baby’s immune system. But the CDC shows many benefits of multiple vaccines, among them:
- Fewer doctor visits and fewer needle pokes, reducing stress for the baby
- Protection for the baby as quickly and efficiently as possible
Before a new vaccine is ever administered to a baby, it’s tested for efficiency, safety, and how well it works with other vaccines.
Myth 3: Immunity from vaccines doesn’t beat natural immunity
Receiving immunity from a vaccine comes with a big advantage compared to natural immunity: protection from complications associated with the disease.
For example, pneumonia and encephalitis are serious complications of measles. A measles vaccine (included in the MMR shot) protects your child from unwanted and serious complications, in addition to the measles.
Protecting your child from childhood diseases
At Pediatric Care of Four Corners, we want you to make informed, educated decisions when it comes to your child’s health. Whether your child has never received a vaccine or just needs to get caught up, we can help you get back on track.
To schedule an appointment, visit Dr. ElSayed at our Davensport, Florida, office. Call us at 863-201-8949 or request an appointment online.