10 Outrageous Things You May Have Heard About Vaccines

There’s lots of hot air circulating about vaccines. We’re here to set the record straight, because vaccines are at the heart of our work – keeping children alive and healthy!

1. You only need to be vaccinated if you travel to far-off places

Except that there are these things called airplanes. And boats. And trains. While it’s true that in many wealthier countries, vaccine-preventable diseases are rarer, travelers can unwittingly spread diseases they bring back from abroad to their community, which could spread quickly through unprotected populations.

And, not everyone can be vaccinated. Pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions rely on the rest of us being vaccinated and minimizing the chance they will be exposed to deadly diseases. Check out coverage of the recent measles outbreaks in New York City and the UK, and a recent whooping cough outbreak in California. There’s also this handy map of all the outbreaks of preventable diseases around the world.

2. It’s a personal decision.

Just like it’s a personal decision to cover your mouth when you cough on a crowded bus, or call an ambulance when your neighbour’s house is on fire, right?

The bottom line is, we are all interconnected in this big, messy global community of germ-sharers. When children aren’t immunized, their communities are at greater risk of potentially deadly diseases.

3. Vaccines are toxic.

No, they are not. They are actually very safe, and they’ve saved countless millions of lives. If vaccines contained harmful doses of chemicals, public health organizations would not support them, doctors wouldn’t give them to out, and drug companies wouldn’t sell them.

4. Vaccines are unnatural.

Because vaccines don’t grow from trees, they are bad, right? Wrong!
You know what else is natural? Smallpox, polio and the bubonic plague.

5. I’m the best one to know what my child needs.

Yes, you are. And that’s also why you should know that vaccines can and do save children’s lives.

6. Organizations who support vaccines are in the pocket of pharmaceutical companies.

This nifty little ad hominem attack is just a clever way to put public health supporters on the defensive without providing any evidence. Nice try. (And besides, wouldn’t companies make more money treating sick people than preventing people from getting sick?)

7. Vaccines cause autism.

A million times NO! Multiple studies – including a review of 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles – have debunked this claim.

8. Vaccines cause infertility or sterilization

This one is a dangerous and persistent myth, which has led to disease outbreaks and countless deaths that could easily have been prevented. The potential impact of vaccines on fertility has been thoroughly investigated through numerous studies, none of which have shown that vaccines cause sterilization or infertility.

9. I’m not anti-vaccine. I’m “pro-safe” vaccine.

Vaccines in their current form are safe. Period.

In fact they’re more than safe - they’re lifesaving.

10. But vaccinated people still can get infected, so vaccines are pointless.

Ah, this one is a gem. The implication here is that because protection is not 100% effective, vaccines aren’t effective overall. Let’s unpack this.

No vaccine is 100% effective, but that is due to the fact that some people (around 5-10%) simply do not develop immunity, even though they’ve been vaccinated. However, by vaccinating as much of the population as possible, the number of people affected is vastly reduced.

11. Thanks for reading! And remember, folks….

Learn more about UNICEF’s work bringing lifesaving vaccines to children around the world here.

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