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These are some myths about vaccination

In recent times, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we've heard more and more about vaccines and how they could help save lives. But, in addition to those that exist to address the current pandemic, there are a wide variety of alternatives that help immunize society.


According to the World Health Organization, “vaccines reduce risks of getting a disease by working with your body’s natural defenses to build protection. When you get a vaccine, your immune system responds. Vaccines are also critical to the prevention and control of infectious-disease outbreaks. They underpin global health security and will be a vital tool in the battle against antimicrobial resistance.” Immunization currently prevents 2-3 million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles.


Fighting against misinformation and fake news


One of the main challenges in achieving immunization goals in the world is misinformation. Misinformation, unfounded rumors and conspiracy theories are rapidly spreading throughout the digital ecosystem fueling doubts about vaccines, something that can generate concern and rejection of an intervention that seeks to save lives.


In order to combat misinformation and help answer some questions about vaccination, the Pan American Health Organization shared a series of responses to common questions or myths about the issue.


Do vaccines contain dangerous or toxic ingredients?

No. Although ingredients on vaccine labels can look intimidating (eg, mercury, aluminum, or formaldehyde), they are usually found naturally in the body, in the food we eat, and in the environment around us —for example, in tuna. The amounts in vaccines are very small and will not “poison” or harm the body.

Additionally, vaccines are tested and go through rigorous and lengthy scientific trials, as well as certification processes with WHO and national regulatory bodies to ensure they are safe and effective. Vaccines offered in public clinics are as safe and effective as those offered in private clinics.


Do vaccines have serious or harmful side effects?

No. Vaccines go through long and rigorous scientific processes to ensure they are safe, and are continuously monitored for safety issues. The risk of long-term effects of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and polio is much higher.

Some people may experience mild short-term side effects to vaccination, such as pain at the injection site, low-grade fever, some body pain, or rash. Although they can be uncomfortable for a short period of time, they are not serious and mean that the immune system is practicing how to fight the virus or bacteria if exposed to them.


Can vaccines contain microchips that allow governments or others in positions of power to track those who get vaccinated?

No. This is impossible. Absolutely no vaccine —including vaccines against COVID-19— contains microchips included, which allow governments or any other entity in power, to track people.


Can pregnant people get vaccinated?

Yes. Not only can pregnant people be vaccinated against various vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza, tetanus, whoa cough, and hepatitis B, but it is extremely important that they do so to protect themselves and their babies from unnecessary illness and complications.

Some vaccines, such as SRP and chickenpox vaccine, should not be given to pregnant people, but may be given before or after pregnancy. Pregnant people are encouraged to ask their health care providers at their prenatal checkups what vaccines they need and when.


Do vaccines cause autism?

No. There is no evidence of any link between any vaccine and autism or autistic disorders.

Also, there is no association between the measles, rubella, and mumps (MMR) vaccine and autism. A single study, which was poorly designed and already disproved, reported this association in 1998. Since then, hundreds of well-designed studies have confirmed that there is no risk of autism from vaccination.


“Vaccines are the safest and most effective way to protect yourself and your family against 16 vaccine-preventable diseases,” states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


The CDC developed a system to identify which vaccines an adult might need. By simply answering several questions, you can find out what type of immunization is recommended based on your age and clinical condition. Access the system here.


Ask your pharmacist about the vaccines that may be available in your community pharmacy.

*Sources: Pan American Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and World Health Organization.

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