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(NC)-While vaccines are a proven, safe and effective way to prevent certain life-threatening diseases, myths abound about vaccinations and the risks that they pose to human health. This is a sobering thought when you consider at least two million children die each year from diseases that are vaccine-preventable.
Immunization has led to great advances in eradicating common childhood illnesses. Without it, infants and children would still suffer from diseases such as measles, mumps, tetanus, polio and pertussis (whooping cough). Millions of children in Canada have escaped infection from these serious and sometimes deadly diseases because of the success of immunization programs over the years.
The benefits of vaccinations spill over even to those children who have not been vaccinated – this effect is referred to as
herd immunity and means that even children who have not received the vaccination receive some protection once the majority of children have been vaccinated. This occurs because vaccinated children resist infection and decrease the chances of those who are unprotected from ever being exposed to the disease.
Myths and Facts about Vaccines
M: Children get diseases from vaccinations
F: Vaccines protect children from disease. They stimulate the body’s natural immune system to recognize disease and respond with prepared antibodies to combat it.
M: Vaccines cause harmful and permanent side effects
F: Vaccines are carefully tested to ensure safety. When side effects occur they are usually minor.
M: Vaccines aren’t effective
F: The majority of people (over 95%) who are vaccinated against a disease develop immunity to it. No medical advance is 100% effective.
M: Diseases that we vaccinate against don’t exist anymore
F: Immunization programs have drastically reduced the number of cases of disease, but they do still exist. Immunizing your child is the only way to be almost certain they won’t get sick from those diseases
Disease prevention with vaccination is the best way to keep your child healthy. Waiting until your child is infected is very risky. Traditionally, treatment based on antibiotics often works too slowly to avoid the damaging effects of a disease and harmful bacteria can also develop resistance to antibiotic treatment.
Vaccine research continues to develop with advances in biotechnology leading to increased efficacy and safety. These new developments are particularly important for children and infants whose immune systems are still developing and are at highest risk. The benefits and minimal risks associated with immunization far outweigh the disease and death that would occur without it.