If you have been watching the news lately, you have probably heard that some individuals have contracted Measles in Disneyland. As soon as the Measles came in, so did the talk about vaccinations.
Now would be a good time to separate fact from the fiction. Hopefully, after you read this article, you will walk away with a better understanding of vaccines.
How effective are vaccines?
Vaccines are currently the most effective form of prevention for some health conditions. They are potent, but not 100 percent effective. There are a couple of reasons that vaccines are not 100 percent successful, here are two:
1. Vaccines are intended to generate an immune response from the individual. Because the immune system varies with each individual, a weakened immune system may not respond effectively to a vaccine.
2. Viruses like Influenza come in many strains. An individual may contract a strain that is not protected by their vaccination.
With that said, vaccines are extremely effective. The MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) Vaccine is 95 percent effective after the first dose, and around 99.7 percent effective after the second dose. The Chicken Pox Vaccine is 85 to 90 percent effective after one dose. TDap (Pertussis) Vaccine is usually 70 percent effective, but the effectiveness decreases with age, so multiple doses are necessary.
For the most part, vaccines are effective enough to keep people safe from diseases.
Do vaccines have side effects?
Yes, vaccines may have some side effects. The side effects vary with different vaccines.
The general side effects include soreness of the arm and tenderness of the area in which the vaccine was administered. Furthermore, specific vaccines, such as the Influenza Vaccine may have side effects such as muscle aches, runny nose, and a fever.
Generally speaking, vaccines may cause mild side effects that usually disappear on their own or with over-the-counter medications. In extremely rare cases, severe problems may develop after being vaccinated; in actuality these severe cases are so rare that scientists cannot confirm that the vaccine caused the problem.
Are vaccines safe in the long term?
Vaccines are very safe and heavily monitored.
For a vaccine to be approved, it must go through a detailed process delineated by the Food and Drug Administration. There are various phases of testing to make sure that the vaccine is safe in humans in the short-term and in the long-term. After the vaccines are finished being tested, the FDA can acquire the test results, which will then be rigorously analyzed.
Additionally, the FDA will acquire samples so that quality control testing can be done to make sure that the vaccines are what they claim to be.
Why is there so much controversy about vaccines?
There really should not be controversy regarding vaccines, but there is. The reason that people are concerned about vaccines is that they falsely believe that vaccinations can cause autism. This is a grossly incorrect conclusion.
The story of this assumption starts in 1998 with Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon and medical researcher. After a series of experiments and studies, Wakefield concluded that the MMR Vaccine causes autism in children. At that time, this was a major event in the vaccination community because the MMR was widely used at that point.
In 2010, Wakefield’s paper was removed from the Lancelet (where it was first published) and he was stripped of his medical license. The grounds for this were that Wakefield failed to disclose conflicts of interest and ethical violations that took place during his study. Some consider Wakefield the father of the Anti-Vaccination Movement.
Additionally, correlation is not causation. Just because autistic behavior was noted in the period after getting a vaccination does not mean that the vaccine causes autism. People falsely conclude that because autism was diagnosed in children after vaccination, that vaccines cause autism. Nowhere in the medical community is there any conclusive evidence that links autism to vaccinations. The current consensus in the medical community regarding vaccinations is this: vaccines save lives. Period.
So, should I get vacc—
Let me stop you right there.