Vaccines can be an effective means of preventing life-threatening illness, but several myths surround it.
Vaccination surely protects us and the future generation by stopping the spread of disease. Various health organizations agree that vaccines are safe and effective. They help in boosting the body’s immune system to diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. The vaccine campaigns across the country have improved the overall health of our population by reducing the transmission of disease, permanent and temporary disability. They have helped the human civilization battle epidemic and endemic diseases. Polio was widely prevalent in India is the recent example of a disease that has been brought under control through vaccination. The vaccines have achieved total eradication of smallpox and brought the spread of measles under control which was the two main diseases that took away the lives of millions until vaccination came up. Dr Brunda M S, Consultant - Internal Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital, explains the myths and facts about vaccines.
Myth #1: Giving a child vaccination might make them fall ill.
Fact: This is something unlikely. Infant vaccines stimulate immune response and antibodies that help fight infection. “A vaccination has very washed down, diluted or inactive strains of the disease that causes the virus. A vaccine’s purpose is to nudge the child’s immune system into producing the antibodies that are required to fight against the virus” says Dr Brunda. Though they are likely to get a reaction or minimal side effects, they aren’t severe. Dr Brunda adds “Often the child may develop a reaction on the body such as mild fever, but this isn’t permanent and thus a normal reaction. The virus is strong enough to eliminate any disease in that person”. For example, chickenpox vaccines can develop skin rashes but only with a few spots. This isn’t harmful and is a sign that the vaccines are working.
Myth #2: Natural methods are the only way to develop my child’s immunity.
Fact: Not always, you can rely on natural methods. Some of these bacteria and viruses come from plants and berries. Dr Brunda explains, “You could add vaccinations to a part of your system by simultaneously giving importance to a healthy diet, active lifestyle, and a good living environment.” She further adds, “These vaccines help your child’s immunity to fight against some common and dangerous strains of viruses prevalent today. This is just an important thing and not an assumption that your child won’t be able to fight the diseases in future.”
Myth #3: The child will be able to fight any diseases when it comes
Fact: “Vaccinations are just a shield to protect oneself from the virus and prevent any pain of battling the disease. A child getting chickenpox vaccine may have less risk of contracting chickenpox and getting prone to diseases rather than a child who hasn’t.”
Myth #4: Vaccination is not needed as the diseases have been wiped out.
Fact: This is a common myth. Sudden outbreaks of infectious disease can be risky. Yes, vaccinations do have the potential to eradicate diseases and have been recognized globally, which can be ignored.” It is the responsibility of the coming society at large to help take preventive measures and vaccinate the youth so that it doesn’t pass onto the next generation. The vaccines are incredibly useful in this case.” says Dr Brunda.
Myth #5: Adults don’t need any vaccination
Fact: Though many people avoid vaccination, it is still advisable to go for regular follow-ups or booster shots for tetanus, diphtheria, Hepatitis, meningitis etc. “These vaccines should be put depending on situations, age, health status etc. according to the recommendations for people such as someone travelling to a place like Africa should take a dose for yellow fever or take TB, typhoid shots before travelling to European countries could be beneficial,” explains Dr Brunda.
At times people are not aware of the vaccines and do not trust the benefits. “You don’t need to worry about the vaccines as they are well-tested for safety and efficacy through medical trials before being introduced to the market,” says Dr Brunda M S.
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