At a seminar hosted in early February at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, experts on the measles vaccine met with members of the media in order to make yet another case – or plea, if you will – for vaccinations. The bottom line that researchers and physicians want everyone to understand: If you don’t vaccinate yourself or your child, you’re putting the entire population at risk.
One of the main goals of the Johns Hopkins seminar was to shine a light on prevalent rumors and myths about vaccinations in order to clear away some of the informational clutter that surrounds the issue. Among the myths that presenters hoped to debunk were:
MYTH: If you delay vaccinations, your child’s immune system has a chance to mature. According to Dr. Neal Halsey, director the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, the longer vaccination is delayed, the more serious the complications from a contracted disease could be. Additionally, the immune system doesn’t respond as well to a vaccine the older the patient is. In other words, the best chance of immunization is if you begin vaccinations early. The Centers for Disease Control recommend starting measles vaccinations at 12 months.
MYTH: More people die from the vaccine than from measles. According to the World Health Organization, more than 140,000 people die from measles annually. Records with the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program show only 57 claims of death related to the vaccine over multiple years.
MYTH: People who have been vaccinated can spread measles. This claim is one of the wilder rumors related to vaccination but one that the Centers for Disease Control find the easiest to discredit. There simply is zero evidence of any household member of a recently vaccinated child contracting measles. By comparison, there is plenty of data documenting the contraction rate for measles, whooping cough and pertussis in what are called personal-belief or delayed vaccination clusters (areas where large groups of parents don’t vaccinate or delay vaccination for their children). The incidence of whooping cough in those clusters is 50 percent higher than any other area of the country.
MYTH: Vaccines cause autism. The Johns Hopkins seminar presenters expressed frustration that this myth still exists and requires attention because, as Dr. Halsey said, “The evidence is overwhelming,” that this just is not true. Every major health organization in the world has reviewed so-called evidence and cannot find anything that remotely relates vaccinations to autism.
With the many personal and political beliefs that also become part of the conversation about vaccinations, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about the issue. But hard evidence has shown that the measles vaccine prevents more than one million deaths per year. As measles outbreaks become more prevalent, it’s more important than ever to discuss the facts with your physician and make an informed choice that protects your family’s health.
At Association of Childcare Physicians, we understand that this topic is gaining a great deal of media coverage and that you may be overwhelmed by some of the information you hear. If you have any questions or concerns about measles or vaccinations in general, please contact us to schedule an appointment.