While receiving vaccinations is commonplace for many people, rumors about their negative side effects are equally common. However, most of these rumors are merely myths. Let’s set the record straight and debunk five common vaccination myths.
Myth: Getting a flu shot can give you the flu.
Fact: This is simply untrue. While there are two types of needle-administered flu vaccine, neither can give you the flu. The first type of flu shot does contain the flu virus, but it has been inactivated, making it non-contagious. The second does not contain the flu virus at all. If you receive the needle-administered flu shot, you won’t get the flu from it. Cristina Soriano, MD, pediatrician at St. Joseph Health Pediatrics in Bryan says, “If you do get the flu after receiving the vaccine, it’s because you contracted it before your body made the antibodies in response to the shot or because you caught a rare strain of the flu that this year’s vaccine didn’t cover.
Myth: When you get a flu shot once, you don’t need to get it the next year.
Fact: The flu virus evolves and changes, and the annual vaccine protects you against the most prevalent strains of the season. Even if the virus hasn’t changed, your body’s immune system has. Your immunity decreases over the year since you had your last flu shot, making a yearly shot necessary to protect yourself from the flu. Do your body a favor and help it fight the flu by receiving your annual flu shot.
Myth: Vaccines cause autism.
Fact: Multiple studies have found no link between vaccines and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A 2011 study by the Institute of Medicine and a 2013 CDC study both concluded that vaccines do not cause ASD. Some people speculated that the vaccine ingredient thimerosal, a preservative derived from mercury, caused autism. While thimerosal has been long removed from almost all vaccines as a precaution against mercury exposure, over nine studies have since shown that thimerosal in vaccines is harmless.
Myth: Vaccines cause SIDS.
Fact: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the tragic, unexplained death of an infant, continues to defy understanding. Being sure a baby sleeps on his or her back reduces the risk of SIDS. However, no one is sure yet of the cause of SIDS. What the medical community does recognize is that vaccines do not cause SIDS. A definitive 2003 Institute of Medicine study found no link between SIDS and the vaccines babies receive when two to four months old, the most common age at which SIDS takes place. In fact, studies have shown that vaccines actually reduce a baby’s risk for SIDS.
Myth: The extra additives in vaccines are dangerous.
Fact: Medical professionals add adjuvants, additives that aid the immune system’s response, to vaccines. Only two adjuvants are used in American vaccines, aluminum and monophosphoryl lipid A. Tiny amounts of aluminum present in vaccines enable the body to build an even stronger immunity to the germ in the vaccine. Aluminum in vaccines has been in use since the 1930s, under close monitoring by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is not dangerous at all. Monophosphoryl lipid A, an immune booster, is only used in one vaccine, Cervarix. It has been studied and tested in tens of thousands of people and has consistently been found beneficial, never harmful. However, you should talk to your physician before receiving vaccines if you are severely allergic to eggs.
Schedule an appointment with a St. Joseph Health Primary Care physician to make sure your vaccines are up to date.
CDC Vaccine Concerns
CDC Vaccine Misconceptions