The first vaccine was invented in 1796 by Dr. Edward Jenner, and since then, vaccines have inoculated billions of people against infectious diseases. Vaccines have nearly eradicated certain infections, such as polio, in the United States.
Despite the major successes and the research on vaccines, there are still many myths surrounding vaccines. Drs. Ines Munoz De Laborde and Svetlana Burkhead and our team here in San Jose, California, can help you understand the truth about vaccinations so that you can make informed decisions for you and your family.
Myth: Vaccinations cause other medical conditions
Truth: Vaccines don’t cause other medical conditions to develop.
One of the more harmful myths about vaccines is that they cause other medical conditions, such as autism. Unfortunately, this idea stemmed from a now-retracted article published in a 1998 study by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield.
Wakefield suggested that autism rates coincided with vaccine rates in children, and that causes many parents to question the safety of vaccines in children. Medical researchers determined there were many factors wrong with Wakefield’s study, and he lost his license.
Myth: Receiving multiple shots at once is dangerous
Truth: Receiving several vaccines at the same time isn’t dangerous.
In fact, when vaccines are being studied, researchers also test how they will work for certain age groups, how effective they are, and if they can be safely given at the same time as other vaccines. The diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) vaccine, for example, combines all of these together into one shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides scheduling guidance for both children and adults. These immunization schedules are quite helpful as many vaccines require more than one dose and help parents identify how many shots a child may need in one visit.
By receiving multiple vaccines at one time, it reduces the total trips to our office.
Myth: Vaccinations have no oversight
Truth: Vaccines are safe and effective.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the safety of the vaccines produced in the United States. In order to receive FDA approval, each vaccine must be proven safe and effective in studies. The studies must also provide a list of common side effects.
As with any medication or treatment, side effects are a possibility. The most common side effect is injection-site redness or tenderness. These are short-lived and temporary. Rarely, unexpected side effects occur with vaccines, but this is something that is closely monitored by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
Myth: Natural immunity is enough
Truth: Natural immunity happens when your body encounters a bacteria when you’re sick. Your body responds by producing cells called antibodies. The antibodies remember the specific type of bacteria and will fight it if returned to your body system.
Vaccinations help prevent infections similarly to how your immune system uses antibodies to remember how to fight bacteria. Vaccines help your body respond to invading bacteria as if you already had the antibodies.
The problem with getting immunity through natural infection is that the initial infection puts you at risk for serious complications, such as:
- Paralysis (polio)
- Encephalitis (measles)
- Birth defects (rubella)
- Cognitive impairments (Haemophilus influenzae type b)
- Liver cancer (hepatitis B)
In severe infections, you may experience life-threatening complications. Vaccines can help you avoid the more serious complications of the illness, and even if you develop a breakthrough infection after being vaccinated, your symptoms are less likely to be as severe as if you weren’t protected. This is true for many vaccines, including the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine.
Myth: Vaccinations only matter for kids
Truth: Childhood vaccines are important, but that’s not the only time you may need a vaccine. Common reasons for getting vaccines include:
- Travel immunizations to help you avoid vaccine-preventable illnesses that are common in other countries
- You’re ready for a booster
- Requirements for school
- It’s part of your immigration physical
- It’s part of a DOT physical or other occupational requirement
Here at Physicians Medical Urgent Care, our team offers many different immunizations, including the flu shot, varicella (chicken pox), measles, mumps, and rubella.
To get caught up with your immunizations, schedule an appointment at our San Jose, California, office. You can reach us at 408-207-4637, our online form, or simply visit our walk-in clinic.