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Vaccines are a life-saving preventive treatment that can stop the spread of potentially dangerous diseases. Misinformation about the effectiveness of vaccines has become prevalent. But the bottom line is–vaccines save lives.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires stringent testing for new vaccines, including three phases of volunteer drug trials, a review of the drug’s manufacturer and of their machinery.
Throughout the process, a drug will be tested by hundreds of thousands of healthy volunteers, whose reactions will be collected and analyzed individually, as well as in a group.
Proven drugs are then studied by experts from the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP) who set recommendations and guidelines for vaccine administration. Drugs that pass these tests are then subject to ongoing spot testing for the duration of their use.
Here are the most common vaccine-related myths and why vaccines are still so important.
Myth #1: “Vaccines have been linked to autism.”
Most of the controversy linking vaccines with autism are the result of a flawed 1997 research study by Andrew Wakefield, which was later proven to have widespread errors and possible ethics violations. Wakefield lost his accreditation due to the study, and the medical journal which published the paper has since retracted it.
Myth #2: “Vaccines have adverse side effects.”
Vaccines have not been linked to increased incidences of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), seizures or any other chronic health issue. However, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continually test vaccines to maintain their integrity.
Myth #3: “Vaccines are no longer necessary.”
Many skeptics believe that years of dropping disease rates and improvements in hygiene and sanitation have eliminated the need for vaccines. However, the nationwide drop in vaccine-preventable diseases is thanks to “herd immunity,” a phenomenon where most of the population is vaccinated, providing protection for the weaker members who may not be eligible for the shots.
Myth #4: “Vaccines can cause you to get the disease.”
Several vaccines, like those for measles and chicken pox, are derived from a living, diluted strain of the germ itself. This led to concerns that patients may catch the disease from their shot. However, this is not the case. One percent of patients do show faint symptoms of the condition, but this is actually a sign that their body is forming an immunity to the disease.
“Just as babies need vaccinations to build their immune system, adults—especially those 65 and older—need additional vaccines as well,” notes Dr. Rosanna Eang, a primary care physician with Inspira Medical Group Primary Care Laurel Springs. “Since human immune systems do get weaker as we age, it’s important for everyone to talk with their primary care provider and build a plan for keeping up with all the necessary immunizations appropriate for them.”
“Vaccines help build antibodies”, she continued. “Think of antibodies as the ‘soldiers’ defending your immune system. The more antibodies you have, the more soldiers you present to fight off infection and illness.”
About the Expert
Rosanna Eang, D.O., is a board-certified primary care physician with Inspira Medical Group Primary Care in Laurel Springs, NJ. She specializes in routine physical exams and preventative healthcare screenings, disease prevention counseling, management of chronic adult illnesses, and routine gynecologic care. Dr. Eang works alongside a team of providers who are dedicated to helping their patients maintain overall health and wellness through individualized treatment and education of acute and chronic conditions. She is available to see patients as young as 5 years of age.