Actress Jenny McCarthy made headlines when she publicly claimed vaccines caused her son’s autism and began spearheading an anti-vaccine campaign. Since then, vaccine safety has become hot source of debate. While we can’t convince you one way or the other, we can clear up some of the confusion floating around about vaccines. Get the facts about these five common vaccination myths.
1. Myth: Vaccines cause autism
Fact: The research says they don’t. After a 1998 study linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism, the study was discredited and retracted from publication. Since then, numerous studies from major organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization, have failed to find any relationship between childhood vaccinations and autism. Watch this video with psychologist and autism specialist Ronald Leaf, PhD, to find out more about this common vaccine myth.
2. Myth: Vaccines aren’t necessary
Fact: Vaccines prevent between two and three million deaths around the world every year, according to the World Health Organization. Not only do vaccines help the body build up resistance to potentially fatal infectious diseases, they also make a person less likely to pass one of those diseases onto someone else. Unvaccinated children and adults can spread disease to those who are too young or too medically fragile to be immunized. That means missing even one shot could not only endanger a person’s life, but the lives of others around them.
3. Myth: Vaccines causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Fact: In 2003 the Institute of Medicine looked at the relationship between SIDS and the vaccines diphtheria-tetanus-whole-cell pertussis (DTwP), DTaP, HepB and polio, as well as specific combinations of vaccines. During the review they found no association between immunizations and childhood deaths. Other studies since then haven’t found a link, either. It’s possible the speculation of a link could have arisen out of coincidence. That’s because most cases of SIDS occur in infants younger than 12 months, and by that point a child could have as many as 15 vaccinations.
4. Myth: It’s not safe to give multiple childhood vaccines at one time
Fact: The evidence shows that’s not the case. Both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend kids receive several routine childhood vaccines at once, as long as he or she has a healthy immune system. Giving a child simultaneous vaccines, as well as combined vaccines, has its advantages, including fewer trips to the doctor’s office and a higher likelihood of completing recommended vaccines on schedule.
5. Myth: Vaccines are for kids
Fact: If you thought vaccines were only for little ones, think again. Experts estimate that more adults die of vaccine-preventable diseases in the US than from prostate cancer or car accidents. Here’s a rundown of the vaccines you may need as an adult:
- Influenza: The flu shot is recommended for people six months and older.
- Tdap: Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis is givien in lieu of a simple Td booster, followed by a Td booster every 10 years.
- Zoster: The shingles vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years and older
- Pneumococcal: The pneumonia vaccine is recommended for adults 65 and older