With National Infant Immunization Week upon us, a Mayo Clinic vaccine expert and a pediatrician debunk the three most common myths regarding child vaccine safety in an article published online in the journal Human Immunology.

The article is entitled “The Clinician’s Guide to the Anti-Vaccinationists’ Galaxy.”
Lead author Gregory Poland, M.D., Mayo Clinic vaccinologist, explained:

“Thousands of children are at increased risk because of under-vaccination, and outbreaks of highly transmissible diseases have occurred. Primary care physicians have less time than most to explain the scientific case for vaccination. This article gives them the background and tools to debunk some of the major myths.”

According to Dr. Poland and Mayo pediatrician Robert Jacobson, M.D., the three myths they reviewed “fuel patient and parental concerns, questions, and fears about vaccines.”

The three myths are:

  • Natural immunity is safer and better
  • Babies’ systems are not ready for the amount of vaccines given today
  • Vaccines can cause autoimmune diseases

The experts state that not only are infant vaccines safe, but they contain considerably less active molecules than before. In addition, a review of 1,200 articles conducted by the Institute of Medicine did not find any autoimmune side effect from vaccines – there is either no impact or that any relation to autoimmune conditions is not causative.

Furthermore, the experts explain that although natural immunity does protect as well, the risk of illness and mortality is significantly greater compared with a vaccine.

In addition, the article outlines the harm the anti-vaccine movement has done by spreading inaccurate information.

Dr. Poland explained:

“We want to offer a user-friendly guide for doctors, but also issue a call to action. We can now show that children have died because of under-vaccination and that diseases have spread needlessly because of this trend.”

According to Dr. Poland, many children are currently at risk for avoidable diseases, including measles and whooping cough, due to lack of vaccination. Dr. Poland highlights that without vaccination, the risk of mortality for measles is 3 in 1,000, whereas with vaccination the risk is 0.

Written By Grace Rattue