Busted! Explaining Common Vaccine Myths

Flim-flam, woo, pseudoscience … there are many names for wrong information. In this article we are going to tackle a real beast, a scary monster that roams the World Wide Web and makes its way into all corners of our communities – Vaccine myths! *screams*

I spent some time snooping the Facebook comment sections and pages sporting vaccine misunderstanding, misinformation, and myths. Here are some of the most common myths and the reasons why you shouldn’t believe them.

I GOT THE FLU VACCINE AND GOT THE FLU FROM IT!

No you didn’t. The flu vaccine does not contain the live flu virus and you cannot get the flu from it. Ever. Period. What may be happening to people is they have an immune reaction (which means the vaccine is working) to the shot and are showing minor symptoms such as redness or soreness at the injection site, fever, aches and pains. This is not the flu. It is also possible that people are literally sick with something (another virus like the common cold, perhaps) and it just so happens to coincide with the time they get a vaccine – in their minds the vaccine caused the sickness.

I HAVE NEVER GOTTEN THE VACCINE (FOR ANYTHING) AND HAVEN’T BEEN SICK.

Lucky you! Most people get sick at some point in their lives. The flu, COVID, measles, whatever it might be, you’re not only more likely to get sick without the protection from the vaccine, but you are more likely to spread it to others – like the sweet elderly gentleman across the street, or the newborn baby who hasn’t received their full vaccine schedule yet. They may not be so lucky as to never get sick.

MANY VACCINES CONTAIN CHEMICALS AND TOXIC INGREDIENTS.

This is actually kind of true, but it’s not bad. First, everything is chemicals – water is a chemical called Dihydrogen Monoxide – you are chemicals, I am chemicals, the air is a chemical. Secondly, everything is technically toxic. All chemicals (which is everything) is toxic at certain doses. So, yes, water is toxic if you drink too much. Vaccines do contain ingredients such as arsenic and formaldehyde – those are in fact toxic at the right dose. The amount of these chemicals (or any chemical) in a single dose of a vaccine isn’t enough to be toxic. A person actually eats more arsenic in an apple or more formaldehyde in a pear than they would get from a vaccine dose. Remember, when it comes to chemicals – nothing is ever “chemical-free”, and it’s not the chemical that is dangerous, it’s the dose. Trust the science and the chemists who know each chemical and at which dose it is harmful.

NATURAL IMMUNITY IS BETTER THAN A VACCINE.

No. Natural immunity to many common, dangerous illness that are typically mitigated through vaccination is not something you want. Becoming naturally immune to measles means you may have to live with infertility. Natural immunity to COVID, may mean you live with neurological or cardiovascular disadvantages the rest of your life. Natural immunity to chicken pox may mean you suffer from Shingles when you’re an adult. Natural immunity to polio may mean you no longer have the use of your legs. This natural immunity also means that while you’re sick, you’re spreading a dangerous disease to your friends, family, and community. Vaccines help you build immunity without risking life.

VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM.

I can’t believe this is still around. Millions of dollars have been spent debunking this doozy. There is unequivocally zero evidence (and hundreds of studies) that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that autism is not caused by vaccination. Unfortunately, many well-liked celebrities profited from these statements. The physician who originally made the claim no longer has a medical license.

When it comes to vaccination, leave the research to the professionals (you know, those people who have spent their whole careers studying vaccines and contagious diseases) and stay out of the comment section. If you have concerns or questions about vaccines, always reach out to a medical professional. The providers at MacArthur Medical Center Pediatrics will take time to help you understand why vaccines really are a good idea, and help you navigate common misconceptions.

Written by Erin Cox, Practice Manager at MacArthur Medical Center, reviewed by Dr. Nehal Shah.

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