Article at a Glance
• Claims of a link between vaccines and autism are not supported by research. Additionally, a recent report shows that much of the data in the original supporting study was falsified.
• Vaccines have been so successful that parents often no longer see or understand the seriousness of the diseases they protect us against.
We all care about our kids… a lot. That’s why we read the safety reports when we buy a car seat, we don’t let our kids watch too much TV, and we make sure they wear their helmets when bike riding. We all want to make the best decisions for our child. So of course we take the decision to vaccinate our children very seriously.
The Case Against Vaccines Unravels
Many parents are understandably concerned about the claims they hear in the media from the special interest groups about vaccines. Nobody wants to put their child at risk for things like autism or attention deficit disorder. However, none of these claims have been supported by research.
British physician Andrew Wakefield first drew the connection between autism and vaccines in 1998. Since that time numerous scientific studies have been conducted specifically looking for a link between vaccines and autism. No link has been found.
Later it was discovered that Wakefield had multiple undeclared conflicts of interest, including receiving funding from a law firm that was putting a case together against vaccine manufacturers. In 2010, the General Medical Council in Britain revoked his medical license after he was found guilty of serious misconduct. Earlier this year, The British Medical Journal released a report showing that much of Wakefield’s research was fraudulent.
Studies have shown that vaccines are very safe, with only rare and mild side effects. Any risk of a serious reaction to a vaccine is extremely small when compared to the serious diseases they prevent.
A Look at Life Before Vaccines
The most convincing case for vaccines is a good look at the diseases they protect us from. However, many of us have never seen the effects of diseases like polio, pertussis, measles, and meningitis. Vaccines have become so successful that we no longer see the devastating diseases that they protect us against. So here is a good look at what we no longer have to worry about when we vaccinate our children.
Pneumococcus and Hib
• These are bacterial infections that can cause things like pneumonia, meningitis, bloodstream infections, or middle ear infections.
• They can be fatal and sometimes result in brain damage, hearing loss, and limb loss.
• One out of twenty children who get Hib meningitis die and 10 to 30 percent of those who survive have permanent brain damage.
• Before the pneumococcal vaccine, every year pneumococcus caused about 700 cases of meningitis, 17,000 cases of bloodstream infections, and 71,000 cases of pneumonia.
• Many strains of pneumococcus are now resistant to antibiotics, making the vaccine even more important.
• Both bacterium are still active and present in our communities—meaning our children are still at risk if left unvaccinated.
• Hepatitis B can cause severe damage to your liver.
• Many people are unaware that they are infected until much later in their lives when they start to experience symptoms like inflammation of the liver, severe liver disease, or cancer of the liver.
• In the United States, 5,000 people die every year soon after they contract the disease and 10,000 people develop long-term hepatitis.
More information on the Hepatitis B Vaccine
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
• Pertussis is highly contagious and is spread through coughing and sneezing.
• The symptoms are sometimes not overly serious in adults, but can be fatal to infants and toddlers.
• The name “whooping cough” comes from the sound children make when inhaling after they have coughed all the air out of their lungs.
• Fifty percent of babies who get pertussis require hospitalization.
• Before the vaccine, pertussis caused about 8,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. Now about 10 children die every year from pertussis.
• Recently there has been a reported increase in pertussis cases. Experts believe that the current increase in pertussis could stem from adults whose vaccine has worn off and are unaware that they have the disease. The vaccine generally only lasts five to ten years. Teens and adults can get the Tdap to protect themselves and any infants they come in contact with.
More information on the Pertussis Vaccine
• Measles is a virus that causes fever, pink eye, and a rash.
• While most people don’t realize it, measles often causes pneumonia, which can be deadly especially in small children.
• Measles can lead to an infection of the brain, sometimes resulting in permanent brain damage.
• Measles is highly contagious and recently we have started to see more outbreaks.
• Measles is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
More information on the Measles Vaccine
• Polio is a highly contagious virus that resides in the throat and intestinal tract.
• The virus first reproduces in the intestines and can then travel though the bloodstream to attack the spinal cord and brain where it causes paralysis.
• Only 10 percent of people paralyzed by polio recover. Those who survived generally had to use a wheelchair or iron lung for the remainder of their lives.
• In the early 20th century, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the United States.
• An expensive international effort has almost eliminated polio around the world, but we are starting to see outbreaks in communities where the vaccination rates are low.
More information on the Polio Vaccine