Top 5 Vaccine Myths

Written by Nick Roffey Everyone hates needles, but some reasons to hate them are better than others. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the Top 5 Myths About Vaccines.
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Everyone hates needles, but some reasons to hate them are better than others. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the Top 5 Myths About Vaccines.

#5: Too Many Vaccines Could Overwhelm An Infant’s Immune Systems

With the development of new vaccines, vaccination schedules have increased dramatically since the 1980s: in the U.S., a child can receive over 20 injections by age two. This has led to allegations that the schedule overloads infant immune systems: for example, Jenny McCarthy claimed vaccinations gave her son autism; Alicia Silverstone calls the vaccine calendar a “shoot-’em-up schedule”; and Donald Trump argues today’s dosages are “meant for a horse.” But, according to an article published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the immunologic load of vaccines has actually dropped in the last 30 or so years. Because vaccines have become more efficient, 14 vaccines today have fewer immunological components than seven in 1980. In fact, children manage a higher immunologic load on a day-to-day basis.

#4: Vaccines Infect You with the Disease They’re Trying to Prevent

And, to be fair, the oral form of the polio vaccine actually caused polio in roughly 3 people per 1 million doses, according to the World Health Organization. For this reason, the OVP was phased out in the U.S. and other countries. Today, most polio vaccines are “inactivated,” made from dead pathogens, or parts of pathogens, that can’t reproduce – and many of the scariest diseases’ vaccines are the same. While “attenuated vaccines,” like the ones we get for MMR, chickenpox, or rotavirus, do contain live pathogens, they’ve been weakened so they can’t cause disease, except in people with compromised immune systems. Worst-case scenario? You might get a low fever and a rash.

#3: Vaccination Is No Longer Necessary Because Infection Rates Are Low

Over the last half-century or so, there’s been a huge decline in the infection rates of many diseases. According to the WHO, this is mainly thanks to vaccines. But as the anti-vaccine movement grows, vaccination levels in some areas have dropped. After all, if infection rates are so low, what’s the point, right? In 2014, this drop in vaccination rates contributed to an outbreak of measles at Disneyland, which quickly spread to other states the following year. The problem is that a decrease in vaccination levels erodes “community” or “herd immunity,” endangering both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. How? Well, most childhood vaccines are over 90% effective – but that isn’t 100%. So a decrease in vaccination puts even vaccinated children at risk.

#2: Vaccines Include Thimerosal, Which Is Toxic

In 1999, concerns about the preservative thimerosal prompted recommendations in the U.S. that it be removed from vaccines as a precautionary measure. As you can imagine, parents panicked, with some hypothesizing a link between the mercury in thimerosal and autism. A 2005 article called “Deadly Immunity,” written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and published in Rolling Stone and Salon, fanned the flames and alleged a connection as well. But Salon retracted it in 2011, citing “flaws and even fraud.” Truth is that, except for trace amounts, thimerosal has been removed from childhood vaccines except multi-dose flu shots. And this has had no apparent impact on autism rates. In fact, study after study has found no link between vaccines containing thimerosal and neurological disorders.

#1: Vaccines Cause Autism

In 1998, British doctor Andrew Wakefield published a paper alleging a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. As it turns out, he’d actually falsified his data, having been paid by lawyers hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers. Wakefield’s medical license was revoked, but a vocal group of activists continued to assert a link. The argument goes: autism rates have increased; so have recommended vaccines; so there must be a connection. But autism rates have increased partly due to expanded diagnostic criteria, with symptoms developing around the same time as scheduled vaccines in both vaccinated and unvaccinated children. In truth, observational studies show that rates don’t increase in those who receive the MMR vaccine. And to date, research around the world has failed to find a causal association between vaccination and autism.
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