Is the Fact that Vaccinations Are Harmful Proven Scientifically?
Nothing in medicine is 100% safe, and while the absolute safety of vaccines cannot be proved, it can be inferred by the absence of serious side effects in multiple studies.
Three main fears surround vaccination: fear that it may cause the recipient to develop diseases such as asthma or autism; fear that it will cause the disease that it is intended to prevent; and fear that vaccine components will cause harmful side-effects.
The first fear is mostly founded on a study published in a well-known medical journal by Dr. Andrew Wakefield (Wakefield, Murch & Anthony, 1998). The study was based on a small set of patients, and it was later revealed that Wakefield had doctored the results in order to show a correlation between vaccination and autism. The article has since been retracted.
Several studies have been made with a much higher sample of patients, and none have found a correlation between vaccination and the onset of diseases such as autism or asthma (Plotkin, Gerber & Offit, 2009).
The second fear has a sliver of truth: vaccines are selected to contain a weakened form of the disease that can spark an immune response, allowing the body to build up immunity. On rare occasions, a vaccine-virus can genetically change into an active form (World Health Organization [WHO], 2015). This has only happened once in medical history, and in a group of over 3 billion subjects, only 760 cases were recorded. This amounts to a statistically insignificant minority.
The third fear is that vaccines bear toxic components, such as aluminum, that may cause fatal side-effects. However, the amount of aluminum found in vaccines is lower than the amounts found in breast milk and baby formula, and no danger to a recipient’s health.
The U.S. has a federally funded program that does not receive any money from vaccine manufacturers, which submits vaccines to rigorous testing and continually monitors them for safety (Daley & Glanz, 2011). According to the WHO, vaccines have eradicated smallpox, reduced global child mortality rates and prevented many congenital disabilities and lifelong disabilities (Bustreo & Kieny, 2016).
Vaccines are among the most meaningful medical developments of our age, and no hard science supports claims that they are harmful.
Bustreo F., & Kieny M. (2016) Vaccines: A global health success story that keeps us on our toes. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/commentaries/vaccines/en/
Daley, M. F., & Glanz, J. M. (2011) Straight talk about vaccination. Scientific American, 305 (3). Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/straight-talk-aboutvaccination/
Plotkin S., Gerber J.S., & Offit P.A. (2009) Vaccines and autism: A tale of shifting hypotheses. Clinical Journal of Infectious Diseases, 48 (4), 456-461. doi:10.1086/596476
World Health Organization. (2015). What is vaccine-derived polio? Retrieved from http://www.who.int/features/qa/64/en/
Wakefield A.J., Murch S.H., Anthony A., et al. (1998) Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet, 351, 637-41.