Updated: May 16, 2019
It is not uncommon for parents to be fearful when it comes to vaccinating their children, it is perfectly natural. What is important is to identify what we are fearful of and address these fears!
Traditionally, parents have been frightened that vaccination might cause autism or seizures. More recently we have found that parents are just fearful of the vaccine itself. Those rumours of Big Pharma companies paying out doctors, vaccines filled with harmful chemicals which could make your children sick, hidden ingredients, sudden unexplained deaths and the likes certainly don't help in easing our fears.
Maybe finding out more about vaccinations could help curb these fears. So let’s explore this.
How does it work?
Each vaccine is made differently but the theory behind them is the same. Scientists take either a part/all of a virus or bacteria (or a toxin it produces) and alters it so it is unable to cause the disease but able to trigger the body’s immune system into creating an immune response.
Some vaccines are live and some are not, live ones are significantly weakened - live or not, they will never cause an infection! Should you be exposed to the disease again in the future, your immune system will recognise the virus/bacteria and you will be protected from it, keeping you and your family safe and healthy.
What's in it? Any hidden ingredients?
Some diluents and additives help our bodies immune systems in making a more effective immune response, e.g. Aluminium or Potassium, may be found in our vaccines. Stabilisers may also be added to vaccines so they can be transported and stored, e.g. Gelatine or sugars and preservatives.
None of the vaccines at Leichhardt GP contain mercury. Though there is no evidence of thiomersal (compound containing mercury) ever causing any health problems, the preservative is not used in any vaccine under the National Immunisation Program.
How safe are vaccines?
All vaccines are tested on animals before they are tested on humans. Passing three phases of human trials (involving thousands of people) before making it to the Australian Immunisation Program for use in the public domain. Manufacturers of vaccines also have to be accredited and abide by strict manufacturing and production standards.
Getting sick, but not actually
The most common side effects your child might experience with the vaccines on the Australian Immunisation Program are mild, they can last for about 48 hours and are much less harmful than contracting the diseases themselves.
Common side effects include:
Redness and swelling at the injection site
Vomiting, diarrhoea and muscle or joint pain in some
To vaccinate... or not to vaccinate?
It is really important that all children in Australia are vaccinated to protect the health of the overall community they live in. This means that people who are unable to be vaccinated due to allergy or illness, such as cancer, will be protected by the community as diseases will not be able to be transmitted through the “immune” community. When rates of vaccination in a community drops too low, a disease can spread, leaving unvaccinated and at-risk people vulnerable to the illness.
Vaccinating children saves 2 to 3 million deaths globally annually, so it really is an important thing to get on board with.
National Immunisation Program. Australian Government Department of Health National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases. Vaccine Components. (2013)
Chain of Protection. Herd immunity (video). (2014)
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Understanding how vaccines work. (2013)