The Vaccine Cheat Sheet

cheat sheetWith so many misconceptions about the safety and efficacy of vaccines it’s hard to always have the right answer on the tip of your tongue when the decision to vaccinate comes under attack.  Lucky for you a cheat is just a mouse click away! Here are a few common misconceptions about vaccines and what you can say to help spread the truth.

MISCONCEPTION 1: Natural immunity is much better than vaccines.

YOUR RESPONSE:  I know that natural infection can provide more complete immunity than vaccines, but there are major risks associated with acquiring a vaccine-preventable disease.  Did you know that a natural chicken pox infection can lead to pneumonia or that a natural mumps infection can lead to deafness?  Vaccines are the only way to help prevent these diseases and their serious complications from happening.

MISCONCEPTION 2:  Vaccines cause autism.

YOUR RESPONSE: Vaccines do not cause autism.  There have been numerous scientific studies conducted looking for a link between autism and vaccines, but no link has ever been found.  In fact, the study that started the controversy has actually been retracted.

MISCONCEPTION 3:  We give too many vaccines too soon.

YOUR RESPONSE: There is actually a good reason vaccines are given at specific times throughout a child’s life.  When children are very young they are at the greatest risk of complications from vaccine-preventable diseases.  If you wait to vaccinate your child, it may be too late to protect them from a list of potentially life threatening diseases.

MISCONCEPTION 4: You really should just pick the vaccines that are most important and skip/delay the rest.

YOUR RESPONSE: Skipping vaccines actually puts your child at risk of contracting potentially serious diseases that can otherwise be avoided.  And did you know that some children cannot receive certain vaccines because of medical issues?  Protecting yourself and your family is actually the only way to protect those children.  If immunization rates drop, vaccine-preventable diseases may once again become common in our communities.

MISCONCEPTION 5: I heard that vaccines can have dangerous side effects.

YOUR RESPONSE: It’s true that vaccines can cause side effects, but they are usually very minor—“low-grade fever, and soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site.” Rarely, a child may have a severe allergic reaction, but the truth is vaccines are far safer than the diseases they prevent.

And just remember, if you ever find yourself at a loss for words and simply don’t know the right answer, don’t worry.  There is one thing you can say that is always right: “You should talk to your/your child’s doctor about your concerns.” Or you can even encourage people to read the valuable and scientifically proven information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), or the World Health Organization (WHO).  Let’s all do our part to help dispel the myths and outright false information about vaccines!

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