Should side effects be enough reason to turn down vaccination?

Published April 30, 2021, 9:10 AM

by Dr. Kaycee Reyes

Axe it or vax it?

Chances are, you have been vaccinated before you even knew what it meant. For most individuals in the 20th century, vaccines have become a part of medical check-ups from early childhood. From the very first vaccine, performed more than 300 years ago to treat cowpox, vaccine development has come above and beyond, having saved millions of lives from diseases, some of which have become non-existent today.

There are still concerned groups, however, that do not believe in vaccines and are still hesitant to take it. While getting inoculated or not is a personal choice, everyone must be informed of its benefits and risks, and more often than not, the former always outweighs the latter.

The truth is, no vaccine is exempted from complications or side effects. This is why, and understandably so, some parents are hesitant to have their child inoculated. Adding to the growing hesitancy, however, is the proliferation of false information regarding immunizations that may raise the risk of illnesses among these children.

Let these myths be put to rest as clarified below. 

1. Vaccines cause autism. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine was previously reported as causing autism, sparking controversy and leading to succeeding tests that disprove it. In fact, studies on autism indicate that it could develop even before immunization.

2. Vaccines contain harmful chemicals. Thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound, has been used in vaccines to prevent its contamination. It is used particularly in influenza vaccines, and there are no reported dangers nor links with negative health outcomes in using thimerosal.

3. Vaccines have long-term negative effects. To this day, there are no reported long-term negative health outcomes from taking vaccines. On the contrary, vaccines have helped individuals live longer and healthier lives because of the reduced risk from fatal diseases.

4. Vaccines can infect one with the virus. No vaccine can ever infect an individual. Vaccines are created using different platforms, from inactivated viruses to subunits (selected parts of the pathogen), therefore making it impossible to cause disease from getting inoculated.

5. Vaccines aren’t needed because the risk of infection is low. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of terms have been tossed around, and one of these is herd immunity. It is achieved when a significant portion of the population has been inoculated against an infectious disease. The risk for an outbreak, however, still rises when an increasing number of people do not get vaccinated.

More common side effects from vaccinations include soreness, pain or swelling at the injection site, rashes, or fever. Allergic reactions or anaphylaxis do happen, but health care workers are already adept at managing these. Severe effects, however, are extremely rare, and as most physicians advise, vaccines offer way more benefits than problems. Aside from protecting one’s health, it also protects other people’s health, especially those who are immuno-compromised. It saves time and money from getting hospitalized, and it also helps health care workers focus on those with other illnesses. When you get inoculated, you are already spreading awareness on the importance and benefits of vaccines, which is a win-win for the community and for yourself. 

Vaccines are made to protect rather than harm. With its success in curbing or stopping diseases from proliferating, one cannot undermine its importance in communities. While yes, unpleasant side effects have been reported by a few, it should still be noted that vaccine benefits far outweigh the risks. Whenever vaccines are available, it is one’s responsibility to know the risks and benefits and to be proactive in discussing these with a physician for better understanding. Moreover, encouraging others to ask from credible sources, or opening healthy discussions in the household and the community will help dispel fear, provide more people with accurate information, and guide them in making informed decisions.

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