World Immunization Week is a seven-day observance that is dedicated to vaccine awareness. It is observed for a full week starting from April 24 to April 30.
Global immunization has helped to prevent dangerous diseases like polio and smallpox through vaccinations. Before the advent of the vaccines, diseases were prompt to affect, infect and even kill people. But the arrival of vaccines, the dangerous diseases have virtually disappeared from the earth.
However, some other like measles were earlier eradicated but is slowly making their way back. The reason behind the eradication is due to myths and misinformation about vaccines. In recent years, a lot has been said about the vaccines and they are even opposed by saying they contain toxic metals.
However, no basis in science has shown any concern to them.
Here are some of the myths about vaccines that were busted
- Vaccines contain toxic metals like mercury, aluminum
Vaccines do contain additives for multiple purposes. Two of these are mercury and aluminum. But contrary to what anti-vaxxers think, they don’t have a toxic effect in the body and are considered safe.
Mercury is present in vaccines in the form of thimerosal, a preservative. There’s no evidence of an adverse reaction caused by low doses of thimerosal, except for redness and swelling at the site of injection.
Aluminum salts are used as adjuvants, which increase the efficiency of the vaccine by strengthening the immune response. They have been used safely in vaccines for over 70 years.
- Diseases have disappeared because of hygiene, not vaccines
Anti-vaccine literature often says that it’s not the vaccines that caused the eradication of diseases but sanitation and hygiene. While improved living conditions and nutrition have brought a drop in disease incidences. But according to WHO, the real permanent reduction in the rate of measles only started in 1963 when vaccines began to be used widely.
- Vaccines can cause death as it has short or long term side effects
Vaccines are safe despite claims to the contrary by many anti-vaccine publications. According to the World Health Organization, vaccine complications are usually minor and temporary. General adverse reactions include a sore arm or a mild fever, which can be controlled with medications.
- People who are vaccinated still get diseases
No vaccine is 100 percent effective. Vaccines are basically dead or weakened bacteria or virus that are introduced into the body to strengthen its immune response. In some individual cases, certain people don’t develop immunity against them. But vaccines do work in the case of 85 to 95 percent of recipients.
Only one percent of those who are vaccinated don’t get complete immunity. But 100 percent of those who are unvaccinated are vulnerable to the disease.
- Multiple vaccines can overload the immune system
Available scientific data shows that there’s no harm in giving multiple vaccines to the child. There’s no adverse effect on the immune system at all. WHO states: “…studies have shown that the recommended vaccines are as effective in combination as they are individually and that such combinations carry no greater risk for adverse side effects.”
- Autism and Vaccines are related
It has always been a controversial topic. A study observed a seemingly positive correlation between autism and vaccines. Thimersol, a preservative used in the vaccine, was earlier considered the culprit. But a 2013 CDC study showed that the substance does not cause autism spectrum disorder. Multiple studies have gone on to show that the connection between the two was unfounded.
- If the disease is eradicated, vaccines are not needed
Some of the eradicated diseases may be prevalent in other parts of the world. An unvaccinated person can be exposed to the disease either during travel or from exposure to other travelers who bring the diseases into any country. If the community isn’t immunized, the diseases can spread rapidly across the population.