I’m a pro-vaccination mom, to me it is one of the advantages of living in the modern world. Yes it is painful to watch the baby cry at the doctors when getting a shot and no vaccines are not 100% effective, but it is worth it when considering the risk of going without and leaving them exposed to certain illnesses.
We also have a responsibility to other kids because by not vaccinating our children, as diseases like measles or polio cannot be eliminated unless a majority of the population has been treated for it. It is worrying to know that there is a growing anti-vaccine movement in Malaysia, and that there have already been new cases of diphtheria in the country. 5 children have died from it since June.
So if you’re toying with the idea of not vaccinating your child due to something you heard from a friend or read on the Internet, check out this list of vaccination myths you should not believe:
Myth #1 : Getting so many vaccinations can “overload” their immune systems
Looking at the list of vaccinations in the first year alone can be scary. But your baby’s immune system can handle it. Their bodies are designed to manufacture antibodies to protect them from infection. Scientific evidence shows that giving several vaccines at the same time has no adverse effect on a child’s immune system. They can handle more than we think!
Myth #2: You don’t have to vaccinate as long as others are vaccinating
Skipping vaccinations puts your baby at greater risk for potentially life-threatening diseases. In order for a disease such as the measles not to spread among children, 95 percent of the population would need to be vaccinated. This is known as “herd immunity.” So isn’t it better to be part of that 95 percent?
Myth #3: Vaccinations cause autism
This is a big one for parents and its usually linked to the MMR vaccine. A scary report emerged 7 years ago that the MMR causes autism but 14 further studies have debunked this myth. It is a coincidence of timing- MMR is given at the age of 1 and this is also the age that autism tends to emerge. The persistence of this myth has led to numerous campaigns to debunk it including this video.
Myth #4: All the scary diseases have disappeared, we don’t need vaccines anymore
There is also the belief that better hygiene and sanitation has rendered vaccinations unnecessary. As evidenced by the reemergence of diphtheria on Malaysian soil, this is really an unwarranted myth. Unvaccinated children can spread infection to vulnerable family members. And in our connected world, it is easy enough to contract diseases from people from foreign countries.
Myth #5: We should wait till children are older
When I questioned my pediatrician about the need to give so many vaccines at such a young age, he explained that immunisation schedules are designed to protect the most vulnerable patients from disease, such as the very young and very old. If we wait, we may miss the window when a child is most vulnerable, and the results could be much more severe.
Myth #6: We shouldn’t vaccinate if a child is having a cold
We might think it is better to delay having a vaccination if the child is having a mild illness. But doctors say that children can still be vaccinated if it isn’t anything serious- a low-grade fever, sniffles or diarrhea shouldn’t be a reason to postpone. Of course vaccines themselves could cause some reaction like pain at the injection site, fever or rash. You should call your doctor if your child has hives, a fever of 105 degrees or higher, or convulsions as these may be symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Myth#7: Vaccines are 100% effective
While vaccines are an effective way of protecting children from disease, it is not always 100% effective. When made with a live weakened version of the virus, vaccines are generally 95% effective while those made with an inactive virus are 75-80% effective. That’s why herd immunity is so important – the more people with vaccinations, the higher the protection.