Childhood immunization fact vs fiction

Facts versus Fictions about Childhood Vaccines

Facts versus Fictions about Childhood Vaccines

When we delve deeper into the source and history of vaccines, we realize that it’s been quite a bumpy ride for many of us. At one point in time, they were regarded as lifesaving wonders of modern technology; nevertheless, there have been many myths revolving around this subject. This is why it is important for us to sort out fact from fiction and make everyone aware of the real deal with vaccines.

Let us become more knowledgeable about the real facts of vaccines:

  • There are a few vaccines which contain mercury

Fact. Thimerosal is known to be a preservative that contains about 50% mercury. It helps to prevent contamination through bacteria. It is quite commonly used in flu shots.

But after 2001, thimerosal has not been a part of routine vaccines for children under 6 years of age. A few vaccines together with flu shots, for adults and children alike, are available in thimerosal-free versions, or may simply contain traces of it.

  • Autism can occur due to vaccines

Myth. Andrew Wakefield did a little experiment in 1998, and he claimed to find some links between mumps, measles, rubella vaccine, and autism. This undeniably alarmed all concerned. This is why the rate of immunization has fallen drastically.

Yet this study was considered to be an imperfect one, and it has since been retracted by the journal that published this report. The Institute of Medicine likewise in 2004 stated that there was no scientific evidence behind such claims and that there was no link to be found between autism and the MMR vaccine. In the year 2010, the CDC stated that it was in fact a risky step for children not to be vaccinated.

  • Vaccines do come with side effects

Fact. Yes, vaccines are not free from risks; one of the frequently felt side effects is tenderness at the injected area with fever, and it is best treated with ibuprofen and acetaminophen. A few of the less commonly cited effects are seizures, the risks of which depend on the kind of vaccine taken. A few children tend to be at a higher risk of side effects than other kids.

  • If you are vaccinated, you are completely protected

Myth. Though vaccines are safe, they will not provide you with a 100% guarantee that you will not become sick. However, yes, they are quite helpful.

If you get the flu vaccine, there is still a chance for you to be infected by the flu; however, the intensity would be much less. This is why, to provide best for the majority of people, experts believe in “herd immunity,” wherein the more people vaccinated, the higher the chances of keeping everyone protected. This would include people who are not capable of taking shots due to heath issues, old age problems, or religious reasons.

  • Taking a lot of shots will end up weakening the immune system

Myth. On the contrary, it is believed that the opposite is true. With every dose, your system gets properly fortified and the body’s resistance power is higher. It will also be able to fight away real infection, in case it shows up anytime. These days, children are given numerous vaccinations at one point in time so that they are well protected and can battle infections faster.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.