With personal opinion and rhetoric so often obscuring genuine news and information, it can be hard to tell fact from fiction these days. That’s especially true for those trying to make sense of vaccine facts with so much vaccine fiction circulating!
In an informed public’s interest, we will share what we know to be vaccine fact, based on scientific evidence and the words of credible sources. We will also share information on a vaccine believed and promoted to be less risky than it actually is.
Perhaps the lesson to take away from reading this is that vaccines, like life itself, involve some risk. However, unnecessary vaccine fear and avoidance can cause more harm to both individuals and society than virtually any medically approved vaccine ever has.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines contain the same pathogens (germs) that cause disease. Some vaccines use only part of the microbial pathogen. Any microbes used have been destroyed or weakened to the point where they fight the illness, but people don’t get sick.
In other words, a vaccine should stimulate someone’s immune system to reproduce the pathogen-fighting antibodies introduced by the vaccine. The process is called immunization, a term often used (inaccurately) as a synonym for vaccination.
Known Vaccine Facts
There is a significant difference between knowing information about something and unrealistically expecting that having information on it means nothing will ever go wrong.
Those who oppose the vaccination process and refuse to participate in it skew the odds so that something is even more likely to go wrong. Recent measles outbreaks are the perfect example of this.
Here are some known vaccine facts.
1. Vaccination Is the Safest Way to Protect Against Disease
There are two reasons why this is true. First, the chances of a vaccinated person developing immunity and not getting sick from the disease are much greater than that person experiencing dangerous side effects from the vaccine.
Second, if a lot of people have immunity against a serious illness, the chances of contracting it, vaccinated or not, are greatly diminished.
2. No Vaccine Is Ever Deemed 100% Safe for Everyone
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states the final stage of a vaccine trial lasts indefinitely. It is the post-approval stage, where members of the general public can report any suspected side effects for future research and refinement.
As long as a vaccine has passed all the clinical trial stages and is in use on a widespread basis, it continues to be tested, monitored, and assessed regularly and systematically
3. Stopping Vaccinations Means Deadly Diseases Will Return
Here’s a riddle from our collection of fun facts about vaccines: Where do vaccines live when lots of people have been vaccinated? Answer: To other animal species, of course.
Historically, many human diseases originated in other animal species. Even though humans may have since developed vaccines, it’s likely those species still carry it. They would spread the same disease again should humans lose our immunity to it.
4. No, Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism
Historically, a handful of research studies have attempted to show a connection between the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine and autism. Other studies tried to make a connection between autism and a preservative once used in vaccines.
Most research that cast a suspicious eye on vaccines for possibly causing autism has since been disproved, or the suspected causal substance is no longer in use.
5. The Shingles Vaccine Zostavax Is Still in Use
Shingles occurs when the varicella-zoster virus from childhood chickenpox is reactivated in later adulthood. Please see the CDC varicella vaccine fact sheet for more information on childhood chickenpox.
Today, there are two shingles vaccines, Zostavax and Shingrix. Despite an ongoing shingles vaccine lawsuit, alleging that the vaccine causes shingles symptoms and worse, Zostavax is used to prevent shingles.
While Zostavax is only considered effective about 50-64% of the time, it is an alternative to the newer Shingrix vaccine. Even though Shingrix is 97% effective against shingles, many people want to avoid its harsh side effects.
6. Older Adults Need Vaccines
Because older people can get sicker from seasonal flu than younger people, they should never skip an annual flu shot.
If they haven’t already received it, they also need the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against 13 pneumococcal bacteria types.
7. Getting a Vaccine Will Give You the Disease
Getting a disease from a vaccine is almost never the case. However, some vaccines contain a weakened version of the live virus, such as the yellow fever vaccine. In rare cases, someone will contract yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease.
This disease isn’t yellow fever per se, but it is dangerous, nonetheless. Immune-compromised people are advised not to be vaccinated against yellow fever or to travel in places where it is active.
8. Your Child Needs Vaccinations Even If Others Already Have Them
Herd immunity can happen when many people in a community have been immunized against a contagious disease. Herd immunity reduces the chance of an outbreak.
Still, many people who can’t receive vaccines depend on this type of protection. If too many people take herd immunity for granted as a deterrent against vaccine-preventable diseases, that immunity will disappear.
9. More Than 1.5 Million People Worldwide Die From Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Each Year
This statistic comes from the World Health Organization via the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The source also shows that an overwhelming majority of these cases are outside the U.S., most in the developing world.
What a sad fact for our global neighbors!
However, it won’t stay this way for the U.S. much longer if American “anti-vaxxers” keep their heads buried and their disease-susceptible children interacting with others.
The Final Fact
The final fact we’ll share here is that far too many people are oblivious to the vaccine facts and statistics that keep sending us wake-up calls.
Yet, there always will be significant differences between legitimate, verifiable information and intentional fake news. And there always will be those who avoid learning what they need to know.
If you want to keep up with what truly goes on in today’s world, keep reading our articles. There’s always a lot to learn!