Vaccines save more lives than antibiotics. They are the single most powerful weapon against hundreds of pathologies. In 2019 alone, their use is expected to save 20 million lives in underdeveloped countries. Their invention is considered to be one of the most important moments in the history of human health.
Despite all of this, the United States recently suffered a measles outbreak due to a rising number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Measles was declared eradicated in North America in 2000, yet a growing movement of parents who are sceptical of scientific evidence has brought back this disease.
What is a vaccine?
A vaccine is a biological product that contains a series of antigens that cause an immune reaction in the body. This immune reaction provides the body with a defence against a disease.
Types of vaccines
There are several types of vaccines depending on the antigen or on how they are administered. Each one is designed to teach the immune system how to fight off certain kinds of germs. Typically, vaccines are classified into 4 groups: live attenuated (LAV), inactivated (killed antigen), subunit (purified antigen) and toxoid (inactivated toxins).
Are vaccines safe, or should parents be afraid of their side effects?
Some children do not follow the recommended vaccination schedule because of their parents’ baseless fears that such treatments carry harmful side effects. Nothing could be further from the truth. Parents should be fully reassured that vaccines are not just completely safe, but also critical for their children’s health.
Benefits far outweigh any side effect
Parents who are concerned about vaccinating their children should see a doctor. A doctor should be able to resolve any doubts they may have concerning potential side effects, as well as explain all the very serious illnesses that vaccines prevent.
Why vaccinate against diseases that are almost eradicated?
The answer is simple: such diseases have almost been eradicated precisely because of the widespread vaccination of children. If we were to stop vaccinations these diseases would re-emerge, posing a grave danger to public health.
What are the most common side effects?
Vaccinations are a very safe practice and offer immense advantages for the prevention of very contagious and dangerous diseases, such as:
– Pertussis (whooping cough)
– Hepatitis A and B
– Influenza (flu)
The so-called side effects of vaccines are usually very mild and go away within a few days on their own. These include:
– Low-grade fever
– Muscle and joint pain
– Swelling at the injection site
Can there be serious side effects?
Serious side effects from vaccines are very rare. In fact, a severe allergic reaction can occur in 1 or 2 individuals for every million vaccinations.
It is important to highlight that vaccinations are a very safe practice and will protect people from diseases far more serious to their health than any potential side effects of vaccinations.
In any case, if the patient notices any discomfort after a vaccination, it is advisable to check with the doctor.