Vaccine Truth Sleuths: Five Common Vaccination Myths
Pfizer Medical Team
| May 2, 2013
People give all sorts of reasons for not getting vaccinated. But is there any truth to these misconceptions? Read on for the straight facts.
Myth: I’m in good health so I don’t need to be vaccinated.
General good health will not protect you from vaccine preventable diseases.
Though you may be at lower risk for serious health problems, vaccination can protect you and others you come in contact with. Think about those in your family with weakened or premature immune systems, such as young children, older people, and those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
Myth: I have (or a friend has) had a bad experience with a vaccination.
You are unlikely to get the flu or other diseases that vaccines are intended to prevent as a result of getting a vaccine. The viruses in the flu vaccine shot, for example, have been inactivated, or killed, and cannot cause the flu.
Still, a small percentage of vaccine recipients develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, runny nose, and muscle aches for one to two days after vaccination.
Unlike the mild and relatively rare side effects of the vaccine, influenza and its complications can be deadly.
Vaccines are a preventive measure; no one says getting your teeth cleaned is fun, but it does protect against potentially more painful procedures and diseases. [National Foundation for Infectious Disease. Top reasons to get vaccinated.
Myth: Vaccinations don't work.
As a result of successful vaccine efforts, few people today have witnessed the crippling effects that a vaccine-preventable disease such as tetanus, polio, diphtheria, or whooping cough can have.
Consider some of the dramatic success stories that have followed the introduction of specific vaccines such as tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and diphtheria.
Myth: Vaccines are not safe.
Few things are 100% safe. Vaccines are no exception.
However, the facts clearly show that the risks of infection far outweigh the risks of immunization for every CDC-recommended vaccine.
Myth: I don’t need to be vaccinated. Fighting off infection is good for me.
Your immune system is your natural defense mechanism against disease, and a vaccine works with that natural system to prepare it for a specific infection.
Athletes often perform better when they get to see their opponent's moves in advance, and vaccines give your immune system a similar sneak preview of the disease-causing virus or bacterium, helping it to prepare its natural response to infection.