Sometimes it feels like we already live in the future of sci-fi movies. And it’s not only about voice control in your phone or computer just as in ‘Back to the Future’, paying for your coffee with a smartwatch like in ‘The Simpsons’ (hashtag they predicted) or having video calls, which Kubrick showed us back in 1968 in his ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. All these things have already become a part of our everyday routine.
We believe in progress, except in healthcare
Science and technology have made great progress and the news we get daily are often quite overwhelming. Above all, the medical industry has developed significantly: 3D-printers will soon be able to create bionic eyes, scientists created artificial embryo-like structures from human stem cells, mobile cancer screening is now a thing, as well as new targets for more effective treatment of cancer, let alone the advancement in the field of robotic surgeries. But we often forget about one of the greatest medical inventions of the last century – vaccines.
And how bizarre it is to read this news along with a problem like “the number of measles cases has increased significantly this year. The World Health Organization reported about 90,000 cases in the first half of 2019″. The problem, of which the solution is well known since the invention of vaccinations. And even though children received the very first vaccines against smallpox almost a hundred years ago, there are still a lot of myths and mistrusts in regard to such a huge invention of mankind as vaccines.
One of the reasons for this is the technological world we live in. Do you feel the irony? It is much easier to get information now, but at the same time, it isn’t always trustworthy. For this reason, for example, Facebook will from now on ban the posts of anti-vaxxers, which makes sense. A bad thing is that a lot of people still believe in those myths.
Myth 1: “Vaccines contain toxins”.
No, the amounts of substances used in some vaccines cannot harm the body.
Myth 2: “Vaccines can weaken the immune system”.
Vaccine viruses are so weak that they cannot affect immunity, neither are they capable of overloading the immune system. During infectious diseases, the load on immunity is several hundred times higher than during vaccination. Vaccinations actually teach the immune system how to fight off diseases without making a person ill. Furthermore, a lot of infections may have serious complicating diseases, so it’s not worth it to “have a disease naturally”. It is also crucial to vaccinate children with chronic illnesses. Since their immune systems are weaker, the chances of having complications after a disease are much higher.
Myth 3: “Vaccines can cause autism”.
The myth about vaccination and autism got popular thanks to Andrew Wakefield, who wrote an article about the correlation between the vaccine against measles, rubella, mumps, and autism. His study only examined 12 children. It was later found out, that he falsified all the facts. Wakefield was found guilty of violating professional ethics and then expelled from the UK Medical Register. There are no other studies that give evidence of the connection between the MMR vaccination and autism.
Myth 4: “Children on breast-feeding are protected and do not need vaccinations”.
Even though breastfeeding is beneficial for a child, it cannot protect an infant from infections. The immune system of a newborn baby is not fully developed yet: it can fight most germs, but not infections such as chin cough. But a vaccine can.
Myth 5: “Vaccination is a conspiracy of the pharmacologists”.
Let’s think critically: isn’t it more beneficial for a pharmaceutical company to sell dozens of pills to cure one illness and its complications, than just one shot (aka vaccine), that will prevent such diseases at all?
Myth 6: “A non-vaccinated kid cannot harm a vaccinated one”.
We can’t exclude such possibility. Firstly, some people may have a weak immune system. And they may get ill because of an anti-vaccinator despite having been vaccinated. Secondly, vaccinations help to stop the spread of contagious diseases through the population. This is herd immunity. More than that, vaccinations reduce the use of antibiotics and thus prevent the development of multiple antibiotic resistance, which is a new and dangerous problem.
So why do we actually need vaccination?
Because vaccinations save lives, simple as that. And they save millions of lives each year.
We live in a technogenic world, where discoveries are made on a regular basis, and we relish this technological advance daily. But with the World Health Organization identifying “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019, a question about double standards sneaks in. If you are ready to enjoy all the advantages of scientific and technological breakthroughs, then why not take hold of the most evident one and take care of your health?