Fact vs. fiction: the truth about vaccines

Vaccines are important. They help protect your baby from serious childhood diseases and help keep children healthy. Vaccines work by helping children become immune to a disease without actually getting sick. However, there are still a lot of misconceptions about vaccines. So, to debunk some common myths, here are the facts:

Myth: Spacing out vaccines is better for my baby.

Truth: There are no known benefits to following a delayed vaccination schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) childhood immunization schedule is the ONLY vaccination schedule for children that has been studied and tested for safety and effectiveness.

The CDC immunization schedule is based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This is a group of medical and public health experts that make recommendations about what vaccines should be given and when these vaccines should be given based on a number of factors, including when the vaccine is expected to produce the strongest immune response.

The CDC immunization schedule is designed to help protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they are exposed to serious and often life-threatening diseases. Children are immunized early because they are susceptible to diseases at a young age, and the consequences of these diseases can be devastating.

Myth: Too many vaccines will overwhelm my baby’s immune system.

Truth: A baby’s immune system fights off thousands of germs every day. Vaccines are made with weakened or killed viruses. But, they look enough like the live virus to make your baby’s body react and produce antibodies.  This allows your baby to become immune to the disease without first getting sick.

According to the CDC, “Even if babies receive several vaccinations in one day, vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of the antigens [parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to go to work] that they encounter every day in their environment. Vaccines provide your child with the antibodies they need to fight off the serious illnesses for which they have been vaccinated.”

Myth: Vaccines cause autism.

Truth: Vaccinations do not cause autism. Studies have shown and continue to show no association between vaccines and autism. Some people are concerned that thimerosal, a chemical that contains a form of mercury and is used in some vaccines, causes autism. Research has shown that thimerosal in vaccines does not cause autism. In 2001, thimerosal was removed from nearly all vaccines as a precautionary measure. Today, certain types of flu vaccines contain small amounts of thimerosal to help prevent contamination. You can ask for a thimerosal-free flu vaccine if you want. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about thimerosal in vaccines.

Myth: Vaccines are not necessary because the diseases are no longer found in the United States.

Truth: It is largely due to the success of vaccines that many of the vaccine-preventable diseases are no longer seen in the US. However, some diseases, like pertussis (whooping cough) and chickenpox, are still common.

If people stopped vaccinating, it is likely that we would start to see more and more cases of vaccine-preventable diseases. Also, some of the diseases that are not seen in the US still exist in many other countries. If a child who is not vaccinated comes into contact with someone who has a vaccine-preventable disease, the unvaccinated child can become very sick and possibly spread the disease throughout the community.

Myth: My child is sick, so she can’t be vaccinated.

Truth: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “a child with a minor illness such as low-grade fever (<100.4°F), an ear infection, cough, a runny nose, or mild diarrhea can safely be immunized.”

There are children with certain health conditions that may not be able to be vaccinated or who may need to get vaccinated later. In order for these children to be protected, other people need to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of contagious conditions throughout a community. Vaccinating your baby helps protect her as well as those around her.

Over the years, vaccines have helped to prevent countless cases of disease and save millions of lives. Make sure your baby gets vaccinated. This schedule shows every vaccine recommended for your baby up to 6 years of age. It also shows how many doses your child should receive of each vaccine and when the vaccines are needed.

 

This post is brought to you in partnership with Sanofi Pasteur, a global immunization leader. To learn more about our work together, please visit marchofdimes.org/Sanofi-Pasteur.

The March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands or products.

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2 Responses to “Fact vs. fiction: the truth about vaccines”

  1. Cathy M. Smart Says:

    It is a very helpful article for a new moms. Now they can clear their doubts with this. Thanks for sharing this article.

  2. Sara Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Cathy. And vaccines aren’t just important for babies–the whole family should be up to date on their immunizations. Vaccinations keep the whole family healthy and make sure infections don’t spread to others.

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