In the limited time of an office visit, how can a primary care physician make the case to parents that their child should be vaccinated? During National Infant Immunization Week, a Mayo Clinic vaccine expert and a pediatrician offer suggestions for refuting three of the most common myths about child vaccine safety. Their article, The Clinician’s Guide to the Anti-Vaccinationists’ Galaxy, is published online this month in the journal Human Immunology.
“Thousands of children are at increased risk because of under-vaccination, and outbreaks of highly transmissible diseases have occurred” says lead author Gregory Poland, M.D., Mayo Clinic vaccinologist. “Primary care physicians have less time than most to explain the scientific case for vaccination. This article gives them the background and tools to debunk some of the major myths.”
Dr. Poland and Mayo pediatrician Robert Jacobson, M.D., review the three immunity-related misconceptions that they say “fuel patient and parental concerns, questions and fears about vaccines.” Those myths are:
- Babies’ systems aren’t ready for the number of vaccines given today.
- Vaccines can cause autoimmune diseases.
- Natural immunity is safer and better.
The Mayo experts explain that the number of active molecules in infant vaccines is far lower than ever before, so while vaccines are not only safe, each child is receiving a fraction of actual antigen compared to children in the past. Among other evidence, they point to a recent review of 1,200 articles by the Institute of Medicine that failed to find any autoimmune side effect from vaccines. They make the point that there is either no impact or that any relation to autoimmune conditions is not causative. Finally, they make the case that while natural immunity does protect as well, the risk of illness and death is far higher than with a vaccine.
Journalists: Dr. Poland has three comments below debunking each myth.
1. Overloading child’s system 1:19
2. Risk of autoimmune disease :35
3. Natural immunity is preferable 1:40