Myth #1: Healthy people do not need to receive the flu vaccine.
Myth #2: A flu shot can give people the flu.
FACT: Although rates of serious illness are highest among people 65 years of age or older, children under 2 years of age, and those with an underlying chronic medical condition, anyone among the general population can become ill with flu. Flu is usually spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing, touching contaminated surfaces such as desks, or direct hand contact. In most instances, a person is contagious about one day before and five days after the onset of symptoms. Healthy individuals who contract flu can easily pass the virus on to those whose health is compromised.
FACT: Because the flu shot is made from dead viruses, an individual cannot get the illness from the vaccination. Some people may experience minor side effects, such as a sore arm where the vaccine was given, a sore throat, or achiness. These side effects usually diminish within one or two days; they are not the result of the flu.
Myth #3: Seasonal flu is not perceived as "serious".
Myth #4: It's alright to go to work feeling sick with flu-like symptoms. It's probably nothing anyway.
FACT: Flu can be a debilitating and potentially fatal disease. Its symptoms can include high fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, and stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In 2006, flu was the sixth leading cause of death among persons 65 years of age and older and, when combined with pneumonia, the eighth leading cause of death in the United States.
FACT: To help protect co-workers, it is important that people stay home if they don't feel well and are unsure if they are contagious. In situations where it is feasible, many companies offer telecommuting options that allow employees to continue to work at home while they are recovering from an illness.
Myth #5: Better hygiene & sanitation will make diseases disappear - vaccines are not necessary.
Myth #6: Vaccines have several damaging & long-term side effects that are yet unknown. Vaccines can even be fatal.
FACT: The diseases we can vaccinate against will return if we stop vaccination programs. While better hygiene, hand washing and clean water help protect people from infectious diseases, many infections can spread regardless of how clean we are. If people are not vaccinated, diseases that have become uncommon, such as polio and measles, will quickly reappear.
FACT: Vaccines are very safe. Most vaccine reactions are usually minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever. Very serious health events are extremely rare and are carefully monitored and investigated. You are far more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine. For example, in the case of polio, the disease can cause paralysis, measles can cause encephalitis and blindness, and some vaccine-preventable diseases can even result in death. While many serious injury or death caused by vaccines is one too many, the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks, and many, many more injuries and deaths would occur without vaccines.
Myth #7: The combined vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis (whooping cough) & the vaccine against poliomyelitis cause sudden infant death syndrome.
Myth #8: Vaccine-preventable diseases are almost eradicated in my county, so there is no reason to be vaccinated.
FACT: There is no causal link between the administering of the vaccines and sudden infant death, however, these vaccines are administered at a time when babies can suffer sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In other words, the SIDS deaths are co-incidental to vaccination and would have occurred even if no vaccinations had been given. It is important to remember that these four diseases are life-threatening and babies who are vaccinated against them are at serious risk of death or serious disability.
FACT: Although vaccine preventable diseases have been uncommon in many countries, the infectious agents that cause them continue to circulate in some parts of the world. In a highly interconnected world, these agents can cross geographical borders and infect anyone who is not protected. In Western Europe, for example, measles can cross geographical borders and infect anyone who is not protected. In Western Europe, for example, measles outbreaks have occurred in unvaccinated populations in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom since 2005. So two key reasons to get vaccinated are to protect yourself and to protect those around us. Successful vaccination programs, like successful societies, depend on the cooperation of every individual to ensure the good of all. We should not rely on people around us to stop the spread of disease; we, too, must do what we can.
Myth #9: Vaccine-preventable childhood illnesses are just an unfortunate fact of life.
Myth #10: Giving a child more than one vaccine at a time can increase the risk of harmful side-effects, which can overload the child's immune system.
FACT: Vaccine preventable diseases do not have to be "facts of life". Illnesses such as measles, mumps and rubella are serious and can lead to severe complications in both children and adults, including pneumonia, encephalitis, blindness, diarrhea, ear infections, congenital rubella syndrome (if a woman becomes infected with rubella in early pregnancy) and death. All of these diseases and suffering can be prevented with vaccines. Failure to vaccine against these diseases leaves children unnecessarily vulnerable.
FACT: Scientific evidence shows that giving several vaccines at the same time has no adverse effect on a child's immune system. Children are exposed to several hundred foreign substances that trigger an immune response every day. The simple act of eating food introduces new antigens into the body, the numerous bacteria live in the mouth and nose. A child is exposed to far more antigens from a common cold or sore throat than they are from vaccines. Key advantages of having sever vaccines at once is fewer clinic visits, which saves time and money, and children are more likely to complete the recommended vaccinations on schedule. Also, when it is possible to have a combined vaccination, e.g. for measles, mumps and rubella, that means fewer injections.
Myth #11: Influenza is just a nuisance, & the vaccine isn't very effective.
Myth #12: It is better to be immunized though disease than though vaccine.
FACT: Influenza is more than a nuisance. It is a serious disease that kills 300,000-500,000 people worldwide every year. Pregnant women, small children, elderly people with poor health and anyone with a chronic condition, like asthma or heart disease, are at higher risk for severe infection and death. Vaccinating pregnant women has the added benefit of protecting their newborns (there is currently no vaccine for babies under six months). Vaccination offers immunity to the three most prevalent strains circulating in any given season. It is the best way to reduce your chances of severe flu and of spreading it to others. Avoiding the flu means avoiding extra medical costs and lost income from missing days of work or school.
FACT: Vaccines interact with the immune system to produce an immune response similar to that produced by the natural infection, but they do not cause the disease or put the immunized person at risk of its potential complications. In contrast, the price paid for getting immunity through natural infection might be mental retardation from Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), birth defects from rubella, liver cancer from hepatitis B or death from measles.
Myth #13: Vaccines contain mercury, which is dangerous.
Myth #14: Vaccines cause autism.
FACT: Thiomersal is an organic, mercury-containing compound added to some vaccines as a preservative. It is the most widely-used preservative for vaccines that are provided in multi-dosed vials. There is no evidence to suggest that the amount of thiomersal used in vaccines poses a health risk.
FACT: The 1998 study which raised concerns about a possible link between measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism was later found to be seriously flawed, and the paper has been retracted by the journal that published it. Unfortunately, its publication set of a panic that led to dropping immunization rates, and subsequent outbreaks of these diseases. There is no evidence of a link between MMR vaccines and autism or autistic disorders.