A frequently asked question by many anti-vaxxers, and a controversial topic between middle school parents. How well do childhood vaccines prevent diseases? The answer to this question is actually very well. Childhood vaccines are extremely important because it is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs. Over the years, vaccines have prevented numerous diseases and saved millions of lives.
What is Immunity?
Immunity is the human body’s only way of preventing disease. We are all born with an immune system composing of a multitude of cells, glands, tissues, organs, and fluids all throughout the body. Our immune system has the ability to detect germs that enter the human body as “foreign invaders” our body then produces antibodies to fight those invaders. The only certifiable way to offer children immunity to a disease without them being affected with the disease first is through vaccination.
Vaccines contain part of the antigen (foreign invader). However, these antigens are either killed or weakened before they are implanted in the vaccine. This prevents the child from becoming sick with the actual disease, but the antigens are strong enough to trigger antibodies that lead to immunity.
Can vaccines cause autism?
A common misconception is that vaccines can lead to autism. This is the primary defense of anti-vaxxers. However, autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that is caused by differences in how the brain functions. The vaccine ingredient that has been linked to autism is thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used to prevent contamination of multidose vials of vaccines. Research shows that thimerosal does not cause ASD. In fact, a 2004 study by the IOM stated that “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal–containing vaccines and autism.”
Currently vaccination is a choice, however in the near future it may not be.