To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate? It’s not Really a Question

Submitterd by: Dr Rebecca Wise

It’s that time of the year again, the time of new seasons and new opportunities. No, I am not talking about your favorite football team and their Superbowl chances. Its flu season! At least it will be soon… It’s the time of year where every pharmacy nationwide is starting to advertise for immunizations, and TV shows and news outlets will weigh in on the safety of those immunizations.

For me, as a health care worker, it’s a no brainer. For anyone who grew up with a parent or other family member who works in health care you were probably in the doctors’ office every year like clockwork for all of your shots and whatever other immunizations that might be needed at the time. However, for many people, the call to get yourself or your children immunized for anything is bothersome or scary. It is a sad truth that there is a sharp rise of diseases in our country that are perfectly preventable with vaccines because there are many people who are scared that vaccines cause more harm than good. Over the next few paragraphs, I am going to take some of the most common fears that are out there regarding the safety of vaccines and hopefully put your mind at ease.

It’s the time of year where every pharmacy nationwide is starting to advertise for immunizations, and TV shows and news outlets will weigh in on the safety of those immunizations.
It’s the time of year where every pharmacy nationwide is starting to advertise for immunizations, and TV shows and news outlets will weigh in on the safety of those immunizations.

Number one is without a doubt the biggest fear regarding vaccines; at least as far as media coverage goes: vaccines causing autism. This notion has been around since the 90’s, and has gained the attention that is has through the support of celebrities like Jim Carey and Jenny McCarthy. It’s not surprising that people listen to celebrities; the surprising part is that we are now over a decade later and it is still a problem. But listening to a celebrity talk about medical advice is the same as listening to a physician talk about acting techniques. There have been dozens of research papers from very high ranking medical teams and even a Supreme Court ruling, all saying that there is absolutely no link between vaccines and autism. On top of all that research, the ingredient that was initially thought to be linked with autism (later dispelled) was taken out of every vaccine in 2001 except for one rarely used flu shot.

Number two came about when some parents out there had the idea that their babies and toddlers getting injected
with so many vaccines in a short amount of time would overload their immune systems and make them sick. There is certainly research out there that debunks this rumor as well, but just to make it clear I will put it into perspective for you with one simple question: Does your child live in a bacteria-free/virus-free giant bubble? If the answer to that is no, then I can guarantee you that your child’s immune system is put through much more work in 5 minutes playing outside in the dirt than they could ever get from vaccines.

Number three, is that a vaccine is going to cause a life threatening allergic reaction. Out of the other two fears that I have mentioned, this is the only one that does actually have a very small chance in happening. That does not mean that this should in any way ever stop you from getting your vaccines. Your life is again in much greater danger just by walking outside every day. If you’re a bit confused by that last bit, let me explain. You have a 1 in 500,000 (or 0.0002%) chance of getting struck by lightning in a given year. Your odds of having a life threatening allergic reaction to a vaccine are 1 in 1.5 million, or a 0.00007% chance. My point is that if you do not worry about getting struck by lightning on a day to day basis, you shouldn’t worry about your vaccines either.

So, I hope this has dispelled some of the most common vaccination myths, and you will take my advice to please get yourself and your children vaccinated. I know that shots can be scary, but vaccines will save you, your children, and the rest of us the harm of so many conditions that can so easily be prevented!

For Further Reading:
1. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/
2. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/738539
3. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/The-Childhood-Immunization-Schedule-and-Safety.aspx

Written by Christopher Wheeler, PharmD Candidate, LECOM Class of 2015
Student of Dr. Rebecca Miller Wise,

Be Well, Be Wise,
-Dr.Becky

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Dr. Rebecca Wise

Wise Words…. is a general medical information column from Dr Rebecca Wise. Dr. Wise has a master’s degree in education as well as her doctorate in pharmacy. She is an assistant professor and ambulatory care specialist at a Medication Therapy Management (MTM) clinic in Erie, PA.

Soon to be released is Dr Becky’s new website which will address women’s issues, watch for it: www.WiseWordsforWomen.com
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