Are vaccines safe?
There has recently been a serious outbreak of measles, with over 100 confirmed cases across 10 states. I thought we should talk about the importance of having your children, and yourself, vaccinated for measles along with other infectious diseases.
Measles and other infectious diseases are still common in some parts of the world. We often forget how serious these diseases can be, because we don’t see them much anymore due to previously high vaccination rates. Childhood infectious diseases are no joke. They are serious infections that can be deadly.
Prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine in the mid-1960s, there were 3 to 4 million cases of measles in the US every year, leading to about 48,000 hospitalizations each year, about 1,000 cases of brain damage each year, many cases of deafness, and a minimum of 450 deaths every year just from the measles.
When vaccines were first developed, parents often stood in very long lines waiting to get their children vaccinated, because they knew how serious these infections could be. They had seen children die or have very serious complications which caused lifelong disabilities. They could not wait for their children to be protected.
Through vaccination, measles had actually been totally eliminated in the US by the year 2000. Unfortunately, something very bizarre was happening around that same time. People started spreading fake claims that vaccines were bad for us. First they claimed that vaccines caused autism. Now that this claim has been thoroughly debunked by reputable science, their tactic has changed leading to other false claims about vaccines.
The spreading of ignorant, false information puts all of our children at risk!
The vaccination schedule is developed by the CDC, based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The ACIP is a group of medical and public health experts that are carefully chosen based on the expertise in various fields of medicine, including vaccinology, immunology, pediatrics, virology, infectious disease, and other fields. Certain people are not considered for ACIP membership, including people who have any link whatsoever to a vaccine manufacturer. This committee meets three times every year and reviews all of the vaccine research and scientific data related to vaccine effectiveness and safety. Between the meetings, they work in groups all through the year to stay up-to-date on all of the latest research. The committee makes recommendations based on a wealth of scientific information, with consideration given to the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine when given at specific ages, the severity of the disease, and the number of children who get the disease if there is no vaccine. This is a rigorous process designed to protect the health of our children.
One example of the great impact vaccines can have is the total eradication of polio in the US. Polio was once the most feared disease in America, causing death and paralysis across the country, with over 55,000 cases confirmed in 1952 in the US. Thanks to vaccination, there are no reports of polio in the US today.
Here are some basic facts about vaccines to keep in mind…
- Vaccines are both safe and effective. Although any vaccine can cause side effects, for the most part, these are minor and resolve within a few days at most. To see a comprehensive list of potential side effects from any vaccine, use this link. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/current-vis.html
- Vaccination is the best way to protect children from preventable diseases.
- Vaccines protect the children who get them, and their families.
- High vaccination rates in healthy children can also protect children who are still too young to be vaccinated or who are unable to get vaccines due to serious medical conditions.
- There is a high cost, both financially and medically, associated with vaccine-preventable diseases.
As infectious diseases threaten to reappear, we should be vaccinating more, not less.
If you would like to read more about vaccines, try this link.
Here is a link for more information about the ACIP:
If you have any more questions just Ask Hanna, our health advisors are here to help.
Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor
Image: ©Shutterstock / Yuganov Konstantin