The safety of vaccination is a topic that’s perpetually in the spotlight. Despite mounting evidence from researchers indicating that vaccines are safe and crucial for stopping the spread of disease, many people still operate under the assumption that being vaccinated spawns a whole host of problems.
On the milder end of the anti-vaccination spectrum you have parents who are worried that vaccinating their children can unintentionally cause conditions like autism. There are also more conspiracy-minded bloggers ranting about “big pharma” keeping the population sick and servile with inoculations.
Regardless of the particular nature of an anti-vaccination argument, the one thing they share in common is the fact that they are woefully untrue. Vaccines have time and again been proven to be safe and effective, and while there are some risks associated with them (as with any medical procedure), these risks are small to the point of being statistically insignificant.
What are the risks?
The most common negative side effect from vaccinations is anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction to the ingredients in a vaccine. Symptoms associated with this condition include an extreme drop in blood pressure, hives, swelling, and fainting. Luckily, anaphylaxis occurs roughly once per every million vaccinations.
How can adverse health effects after vaccination be explained then?
Most of the time, these negative effects are simply an unfortunate coincidence. Because of the negative perception that some people have of vaccines, they are too quick to assume that any time something unfortunate happens after a vaccination, it’s because of that vaccination.
What are the risks of not vaccinating?
While the risks of vaccinating are small and insignificant, the risks of not vaccinating yourself or your children are much higher and more dangerous.
For example, while the risk of dying from an MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is about one in a million, the risk of dying from one of these illnesses increases to a staggering one in 1000. Thanks to growing distrust of the MMR vaccine, 2013 saw more cases of measles than in any time during the last decade.
While it’s important to approach health fads with a questioning mind, skepticism over something as thoroughly established as vaccine safety becomes counterproductive. In an attempt to protect ourselves, we actually open society up to much greater health risks.