Myth #1: Vaccines cause autism.
Autism is a disorder where children have an impairment in social and communication skills and also exhibit repetitive or obsessive characteristics. This myth that vaccines cause autism was popularized by a study published by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that has since been retracted. There are several reasons why this myth has persisted. Autism usually happens to be diagnosed at the same age that the MMR vaccine is administered. The vaccine does not actually cause autism but falsely appears to be linked to it because the vaccine is given at the same age that autism usually is seen in children. Another reason is that autism appears to be on the rise. However, this is not due to vaccines but because we have gotten better at recognizing and diagnosing the condition. It is a difficult fact for some parents to accept that autism is not caused by vaccines because no one has found the exact answer, but we do know that genetics and the environment do play a role.
Myth #2: Vaccines contain mercury.
There are no longer any routine childhood vaccines that contain mercury preservatives. However, for some vaccines, mercury preservatives are used during the manufacturing process but they are removed from the final product. In addition, the flu vaccine that is produced each year does contain mercury preservatives but there are also mercury free flu vaccines that are made. That being said, the amount of mercury in a single dose of the flu vaccine is only 1/5 the amount of mercury in a tuna sandwich! In addition, the form of mercury that can cause damage is called methyl mercury. Ethyl mercury is the form that is found in vaccine preservatives. Unlike methyl mercury, ethyl mercury cannot cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain and is eliminated from the body rapidly.
Myth #3: Children can’t handle all the vaccines required by the current vaccine schedule.
The vaccine schedule was developed over a long period of time by a team of doctors and scientists as the best way to protect babies against deadly diseases. The amount of “germs” that we are exposing the immune system to via the vaccines is much less than the number of germs that our children encounter each day during everyday life! In addition, although children receive more vaccines today, the actual load on the immune system is less than before because the vaccines themselves contain less antigens or “germs” and more combination vaccines are available. Spacing out the vaccines does nothing for the immune system, nor does it prevent autism or make vaccines safer. In fact, spacing out your child’s vaccines actually puts them at higher risk to contract a disease that is preventable!
Myth #4: Even if my child doesn’t receive vaccines, they are protected because those diseases no longer exist.
In fact, because of the rise in unvaccinated children, we have been seeing diseases that had no longer been a concern because of the vaccines. For example, in 2008, there was a measles outbreak in San Diego, a preventable disease because there is a vaccine for it! In addition, babies are the ones most susceptible to disease and they depend on other children being vaccinated in order to be protected when they are too young to receive the vaccines.
Bottom line: As parents, we have all been there – we have gone through all those worries and concerns. We will not recommend anything that we wouldn’t do for our own children. Vaccines are safe and protect our children!