Immunizations and Vaccines: Facts vs. Fiction

Immunizations and vaccines have played an instrumental role in increasing the quality of life for people around the world. Vaccines have virtually eliminated several serious diseases in the developed world that have historically cause millions of deaths, such as smallpox, polio, and flu.

Do vaccines actually work?

Yes, vaccines are very effective. Vaccines have reduced the spread of certain diseases so much that many of them are unheard of in the developing world. It still remains important, however, to receive vaccinations for diseases that have been virtually eliminated to prevent a resurgence of these illnesses.

Are vaccines safe?

Yes, vaccines are extremely safe. While some adverse effects may occur, these instances are incredibly rare. The most common adverse effects include fever or soreness of the injection site and usually subside in a matter of hours. The true danger lies in not being vaccinated for serious diseases, which can result in serious health complications and even death.

Do vaccines cause autism?

No, vaccines do not cause autism. One study that linked a Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism was debunked and proven to be false. In fact, the majority of the researchers who worked on this study later came out against the findings. Since then, all studies that have been done on the connection between the MMR vaccine and autism have failed to find a relationship between the two.

Are vaccines against rare diseases necessary?

Yes, even vaccines that protect against diseases that have become rare as a result of immunizations. A common misconception is that because illnesses like measles are so rare in the developing world that vaccination is not necessary. While the number of cases each year for measles in the United States is very, very small, the increase in global travel and transportation makes it even more important to receive vaccinations. If an unvaccinated person introduces a vaccine-preventable disease into a community with a large number of unvaccinated people, the consequences could be tremendous.

Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works