Vaccinations: A Deadly Misunderstanding
It’s a topic of hot debate these days. You seem to hear more stories on the news every day of increasing efforts by anti-vaccination groups to protest the harms of vaccines. But just where did this belief come from? And just how wrong are they in their efforts?
The Origin of the Controversy
In 1998, The Lancet published a paper by discredited British surgeon Andrew Wakefield that suggested the MMR vaccine increased the chance of children developing autism. Of course, this sent everyone in a frenzy and the numbers of vaccinated children in the UK dropped sharply. This paper was retracted in 2010 after it was found multiple parts of the publication were false, as well as displaying ethical violations and scientific misinterpretation. The conspiracy theorist had his medical license revoked shortly afterward, but that hasn’t stopped him preaching his beliefs. Evidently, this hasn’t been enough to debunk the myths of vaccines since you still get your aunt or cousin at Christmas droning on about the dangers of them. More specifically, how dangerous the ingredients of them are. Let’s break that down together shall we?
The ‘Toxic’ Ingredients of Vaccines
The main part of any vaccine is the active ingredient; the weakened or dead form of the virus/bacteria you’re introducing to your immune system. No big deal over here, these are not enough to cause you disease. Your body uses this to build an immune response to the virus/bacteria so if you are ever exposed to it in future you already have defences for it, which is basically the entire purpose of a vaccine.
It’s the other ingredients that cause a riot, the main culprits being thimerosal, formaldehyde, and aluminium.
They’re the kind of words you hear and think: “oh no, that can’t be good for me”. But contrary to that belief, these ingredients are relatively harmless to us.
Is the thought of thimerosal being in your vaccination making you hesitate to get it? Hearing that this ingredient actually contains mercury is enough to send most people running. However, the type of mercury it contains is different to the type found in fish or other products that is harmful in large amounts. The mercury in thimerosal is broken down very quickly in your body and is harmless. If that still doesn’t convince you, it has been removed in almost all vaccines since around 2000 due to public concern.
Well, what about the formaldehyde then, that’s still dangerous to you right? It is harmful in large amounts, yes, but your body actually produces a larger amount of this ingredient naturally than what is contained in the vaccine. So, if it’s formaldehyde that’s worrying you, you may be in a constant state of worry after reading this.
Okay, but there’s still the aluminium, and I don’t want that anywhere near me! Aluminium is a common naturally occurring element that’s found in our water, certain foods, and even in breast milk. In fact, the amount of this ingredient in vaccines is so small, it can barely be detected. You’ll ingest more than you’ll get from a vaccination.
I’m Vaccinated, Who Cares If Other People Aren’t?
Here’s the thing about diseases: they have an annoying habit of persevering and not wanting to die off. If only some people get vaccinated, the disease still has the capability to spread and target the elderly, the young, and those with weakened immune systems, potentially killing them. This is why you still hear a case of measles pop up on the news every now and then. There are links to declines in vaccinations and diseases arising, and vaccinations don’t just protect you, they protect those around you.
We can see anti-vaccination efforts aren’t only uneducated, they’re dangerous and put many at harm. One might even say anti-vaxxers are more deadly than the vaccines themselves.
So, the next time you get told by your aunt how vaccinations cause autism or are dangerous to your health, I hope you see the danger lies with the people, not with the jab.