Vaccines have many benefits, including a dramatic reduction in the spread of diseases, disabilities, and deaths. But even still, immunizations have a bad rep. Misinformation and myths have muddied the facts and circulated some confusing controversies that need some clarification.
Drs. Bharat Gandhi and Priya Gandhi at Medinet Family Care Clinic have all the facts you need to know about immunizations. They can help you understand which ones you need, when you need them, and why. To help all their patients in the Houston area separate fact from fiction, they’ve addressed several topics surrounding vaccinations below. Keep reading to learn the truth about immunizations!
Are vaccines safe?
Fact: Vaccines are safe.
Some people think vaccines contain harmful ingredients and are therefore unsafe. However, the ingredients they point to are necessary to either preserve or administer the vaccine. Not to mention, doses are small and unlikely to cause any harm. In fact, the traces of aluminum, formaldehyde, and mercury — the ingredients that have sparked the controversy — are lower than the amounts you’re exposed to in the environment every day.
If you drink milk, wear contact lenses, eat fish, or rinse with mouthwash, you’re taking in more of those potentially harmful ingredients daily than you would receive in a vaccine. The reason they don’t make you sick is that the doses are too small to have an impact. The same is true for vaccines. Plus, the main ingredient in the vaccine far outweighs the minuscule risks by protecting you from life-threatening illnesses.
Can a vaccine cause the disease?
Fact: Vaccines do not cause the disease they are meant to prevent.
This is a common misunderstanding about vaccines. Some people mistakenly believe that injecting a form of the disease into their bodies will make them contract the disease.
However, the majority of vaccines contain dead viruses, which makes it impossible for you to catch the disease. If you do get a vaccination that contains a live virus, there's a small chance you’ll experience a few mild symptoms. But, a full-blown case of the disease is extremely rare.
If everyone around me is vaccinated, why do I need a shot?
Fact: Herd immunization protects everyone.
To keep an entire population safe from certain contagious diseases, the majority of the people in that group must be immunized. This is called herd immunization, and it not only protects those who’ve been vaccinated, but also those who haven’t.
Elderly folks, babies, and those with allergies and illnesses can’t tolerate vaccines, so they rely on everyone around them to be disease-free. In essence, your immunization is their immunization as well.
If healthy people start refusing to be vaccinated, and the unvaccinated portion of the population becomes the majority, then herd immunization is no longer viable and contagious diseases have an open invitation to infect entire communities.
Are vaccines just for kids?
Fact: Adults need vaccinations, too.
Most children in the United States receive the majority of their vaccinations within the first six months of their lives. During this time, they're immunized against measles, chickenpox, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, and several other diseases. Children receive booster shots for some of those until about age six and get a Tdap vaccination around age 11.
Although childhood vaccinations last a long time, they do weaken over the years. If you received vaccines when you were a child, you may need to get a booster shot as an adult.
Even if you’re up to date, if you’re over 60 you’ll need a vaccination for shingles. This infectious rash, caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, can have intense symptoms that you want to avoid. If you’re over 65, you should also get the vaccine for pneumococcal diseases. These diseases can bring on sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, and bloodstream infections.
Your annual flu shot is another vaccine that everyone, including kids, should get.
What else should I know?
These are just a few of the questions you might have about immunizations. Do you want to learn more about how to protect your family and your community? Contact us today.