Bright Side

8 Myths About Vaccines That Led to a Measles Outbreak in the 21st Century

It may seem that measles is a thing of the past that has completely no connection to today. But since 2017, there have been serious pandemics in many countries around the world. Doctors say that these outbreaks have become possible because of the anti-vaccination propaganda that is only getting more popular.

Bright Side has looked into the arguments from the anti-vaccine movement and has proven that they are wrong from a scientific point of view. And at the end of the article, we have prepared a bonus proving that even the anti-vaccine movement can’t fight common sense.

Myth № 1. Nobody in my country has measles, so there is no need to get the vaccine.

This is a representation of healthy people meeting an infected person who has measles. According to statistics, 9 out of 10 people will get sick, and one of them will have complications.

This argument sometimes sounds a little different: we live in the 21st century and measles was supposed to have been eradicated back in the 20th or even in the 19th century. Of course, this is only partially true. Our diet has improved, so has our hygiene and the development of our medicine, along with vaccinations. But the mortality rate from some diseases had decreased even before the invention of vaccines.

All you have to do to understand the importance of vaccines is take a look at the statistics. In 1968, Great Britain started using the measles vaccine. Thanks to the vaccine, 20 million people avoided getting infected and 1500 people avoided death.

Even if there were no outbreaks in a certain country, how can you be sure that there will be no virus that accidentally travels there with a tourist? In this case, measles will spread almost instantly. And vice versa: when going on a trip, get a vaccine just to be safe.

Myth № 2. Even if you get a vaccine, you’ll get sick anyway.

It’s true that there is no vaccine that can give you a 100% immunity. But with measles, these numbers are about 93-97%. In some rare cases, it’s possible to get infected because everybody is different and some people’s immune systems may function in different ways. This is perfectly normal and it doesn’t mean you should give up on a vaccine completely.

A woman who is against vaccines literally shocked the internet with her Facebook post. In her city, there was an outbreak of measles and her 3-year-old daughter obviously did not have a vaccine. The woman’s question was, “How do I protect my child?”

Myth № 3. Measles vaccines can cause autism.

In 1998, the serious scientific journal Lancet posted an article about the connection between the measles vaccine and autism. Later, the ideas of the author were negated and the article was deleted. But the people who read the article could never forget it.

Modern anti-vaccine people often use this argument when they say that vaccines are dangerous — they claim that they lead to autism. It is interesting that even highly-developed countries have not gotten rid of this false information.

Here is proof: A family from Vancouver, Canada who has 3 children, never got them vaccinated because of the fake danger of developing autism. And the family traveled to Vietnam where one of their sons got measles. Of course, after they came back, all of Vancouver was in danger of having an outbreak of measles.

Myth № 4. A baby’s body can’t take this many vaccines.

Children before the age of 2 have to get about 10 different vaccines. Some parents are worried about the number of vaccines they get and they believe that a child’s body can’t handle so many vaccines. They seriously believe that every injection lets thousands of dangerous bacteria get into the child’s body that destroy their immune system.

This is not true. Vaccines contain weakened viruses that don’t do any harm. They only teach the immune system how to develop defense mechanisms. According to a book by immunologist and pediatrician Paul Offit, children’s bodies can respond to antigens (this is exactly what a vaccine is) before it is even born.

Myth № 5. Vaccines are just placebos.

Unfortunately, this is one of the hardest myths to dispel because the general population is not really familiar with scientific work.

There are several types of vaccines, but all of them work in the same way:

  • A vaccine contains a weakened virus.
  • This virus makes the body produce antibodies, but it can’t damage the body much because it is very weak.
  • After that, when the body meets a strong virus, it “remembers” it and starts to produce antibodies which prevent the infection.

Myth № 6. Essential oils are just as effective as vaccines.

This old superstition has a point, no matter how strange it sounds. Scientists tested rosemary and sage essential oils for how well they can fight measles.

They found out that rosemary and sage have good potential for fighting the virus. But using essential oils as they are can neither treat measles nor prevent the infection.

Myth № 7. The measles vaccine is an easy way to make money using people’s trust.

From a historical point of view, this argument is completely powerless. The vaccine industry was never profitable in the past. For decades, this part of the pharmaceutical market was not financed and didn’t function well. Many companies even sold their divisions that worked on vaccines in order to focus on the production of more profitable medications.

Other companies had to shut down because they went bankrupt. For example:

  • in 1967, only 26 vaccines were made;
  • in 1980, only 17 vaccines were made.

People even worried that everyone would stop producing vaccines. Fortunately, this did not happen. And it could be because selling medications that are used every day is far more profitable than selling vaccines that are needed only once a year or even less often.

Myth № 8. Vaccines may contain poisonous chemicals that can harm you.

Many people are worried about the dangerous chemicals in the vaccines. The most popular concerns are mercury, aluminum, and formaldehyde. These chemicals really are dangerous but their concentration in the vaccine is so small that there is no need to even talk about this.

The only way a vaccine can be dangerous is if a person is allergic to some of the ingredients.

Bonus: When your parents are against vaccines

“God knows how I’m still alive”, said a guy from the US on Reddit. He was raised by parents who are against vaccines. Once he was 18 years old, he had his first vaccine in his life despite what his parents said. This was such a shocking thing that a lot of different media wrote about this.

Do you get vaccines? Do you think that vaccines are really just nonsense or a real scientific discovery that helps people fight serious diseases?

Preview photo credit ethanlindenberger / reddit