Vaccinations, most of us are confronted with them at least once in our lives. Whether it is because of a child vaccination program or because you’re planning a trip to a far away country. Questions about vaccinations: most of us should ask them, but we rarely do. And those who want to find some answers often find the wrong information. They base their views and decisions on serious misconceptions and some decide, as a result, not to vaccinate their children. And meanwhile people in many countries all over the world are very glad that they can prevent their children from dying or getting really sick. Quite a contrast.
This blog is dedicated to all people that need some serious, truthful answers about vaccines.
1. What exactly is a vaccine?
A vaccine is simply said a way to train your immune system to get familiar with a disease (virus, bacteria or parasite) and to train your immune system to kill that disease. Familiarize with killing it? You don’t’ mean? … Hold on? … Are they…? … Indeed, vaccines contain material of the infectious disease you don’t want. But before you start shaking and get a panic attack: this vaccine is designed not to cause you harm. It is like a boxer standing before you who is unable to punch back. Let’s say the material inside the vaccine is this Boxer. In most cases this Boxer is injected in your system, sometimes it’s oral.
With some diseases you just need to show your immune system the Boxer once (for example HPV). With other diseases the immune system needs to see the Boxer a couple of times (Hepatitis A or B). And sometimes you need to repeat the vaccination every so often to keep your immune system on their toes (DTP).
2. Do you get sick after vaccination?
It is possible, yes, to feel sick for a while. Most vaccines use dead material of the infectious disease. Some vaccines, like yellow fever, use a living virus that has been disabled from multiplying or making you sick. After getting the vaccination, your immune system starts to work potentially causing some flu like symptoms. This happens more with “living” vaccines then dead vaccines. Other risks of vaccination are a local skin infection where the needle entered the skin and a rash.
Remember: the vaccine is designed not to cause harm. It is your fist that hurts after hitting the Boxer, the Boxer still didn’t hit you back.
3. Is there toxic material in vaccinations? Is a vaccine “poison”?
Do you eat bananas? Did you have a body when you were a child? Are you worried about this? If not, don’t worry about vaccines.
In vaccines they use chemical stuff like thimerosal (a form of mercury but not as toxic as mercury, only used in a few vaccines), formaldehyde and aluminum. Fruits, vegetables, grains and cheese also contain amounts of these toxic agents and actually contain higher dosages of it. A banana contains approximately 16.3 mg/kg formaldehyde, a two-year old child makes formaldehyde in its own body in a dosage of 1.1 mg and a vaccine uses less than 0.1mg in total.
Conclusion: yes, there are toxic ingredients in vaccines necessary to make them effective. But they are non-harmful for your body and the dosage of these toxins is lower than all other stuff you are already confronted with. But, ok, when your not convinced, you should stop eating bananas and you definitely need to get rid of your body.
4. If everyone is getting vaccinated, why should I give it to my children?
Well, for starters, the whole idea of vaccination is a so-called herd immunization. This means that in a group of 100, if 99 people are vaccinated, the one that isn’t is protected through the others. This is the case for many diseases that need a human to transmit the infection. This could mean you don’t have to vaccinate your children, but there is a downfall. More and more people are choosing not to vaccinate, dropping the “herd immunization” and thus increasing the risk of a new epidemic. My advice: if you have a young baby, don’t let them near unvaccinated kids!
There are also infections that you get from, for instance, a simple bicycle accident (Tetanus). Without the vaccinations against it (you need more than one), you’re in trouble.
Another argument is that maybe your child is at one stage to old to get sick from a virus, say Measles, but they can carry the virus and infect other children that did not get the vaccine yet, thus endangering them.
Lastly, the world is getting smaller and smaller, you/your children are likely to go traveling and trust me, those diseases that you don’t take seriously? They kill people in some of the countries you plan to visit.
5. Can I reduce the pain of vaccination by giving my child something?
Yes, after the vaccination you give your child a very pretty bandage from Frozen or whatever other favorite character (my husband still buys Harry Potter bandages for me). Then you give them, depending on their age, a nice little snack and tell him/her how brave they were and how proud you are. Done.
6. Does vaccinating increase the risk of autism or other neurological diseases?
There has been a study in the 1998 by Andrew Wakefield in 12 patients (yes, just two more than the total of your fingers, at least I hope so, if not, it wasn’t my intention to offend you, what happened? you shouldn’t play with fireworks or chainsaws or … boomerangs… we need to move on) that claimed that the MMR (Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine was linked to autism. That’s what everyone remembers. What we don’t remember is that this particular researcher had in fact made up the entire study. Wakefield had been funded by lawyers who had been engaged by parents in lawsuits against vaccine-producing companies. The journal (Lancet, big medical journal) exonerated Wakefield and his colleagues on charges of ethical violations, deliberate fraud and scientific misconduct. The study was formally retracted from publication, the man was fired and can never conduct research again. Many follow up studies have been conducted and none ever found this negative effect of vaccinations. In short, boomerang, we need to move on.
7. Finally, what diseases are vaccine preventable?
Well that’s a lot. Are you ready? Sit back, read or skip and trust the advice your government provides…
To date we have effective vaccines against:
Diphtheria (a severe throat infection, especially children die), Haemophilis influenzae B (can cause meningitis in young children, deadly), Hepatitis A (severe infection), Hepatitis B (can cause chronic infection and cancer), Human Papiloma virus (HPV, can give cervical cancer to women), Influenza virus (flu, prevents severe infection, yearly update, see previous blog), Japanese encephalitis (deadly), Measles (deadly), Meningococcal disease (meningitis, deadly), Mumps (deadly and boys can get infertile), Pertussis (whooping cough, for young children deadly), Pneumococcal disease (pneumonia, deadly for young children and fragile patients), Polio (paralyses or death), Rotavirus (deadly for young children in developing countries), Rubella (deadly), Tetanus (pretty common bacteria, causes spasms and eventually death), Smallpox (deadly but eliminated, see first blog), Yellow fever (deadly, no treatment)
Vaccinations we have that are not 100% effective:
Rabies (deadly, after a bite need booster vaccinations), Tuberculosis (prevents severe infection but does not prevent infection itself), Typhoid fever (severe infection, 70% effectiveness).
And luckily, more and more vaccines are coming.
Don’t be afraid of vaccines. Please don’t, it saves not only your own live, but also those of people surrounding you. Should you ever be in doubt however, look into a mirror and understand: you are beating Mohammed Ali, you are beating Mike Tyson, you are a Boxing Champion!