Why do people refuse to get vaccines for themselves and/or their children?


Some people believe that it is better to develop natural immunity by allowing children to contract vaccine-preventable diseases like measles; however, getting measles comes with the risk of death, deafness and intellectual disability. — TNS

Every time I think about getting the Covid-19 vaccine, my Facebook news feed will show me reports on this or that vaccine causing side effects, or even deaths. This makes me scared. What exactly is the truth?

All vaccines have side effects. Most of them are mild and will only cause you minor discomfort, if any at all.

Contrast this with getting the actual disease itself, such as Covid-19, measles, mumps, chickenpox, rubella or tuberculosis.

That is why vaccination is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your children.

Vaccines prevent up to three million deaths globally every year.

Ever since vaccines were introduced over the last three centuries, diseases like smallpox, polio and tetanus are completely gone, or seen only very rarely.

Smallpox used to kill millions of people.

Polio used to render many people disabled.

I had measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox myself during childhood, because those vaccines had not been introduced yet.

I would not want any child to go through those today if possible.

But do vaccines kill people?

Vaccines can cause side effects, just like any medication.

For most, these side effects are very minor, such as a sore arm, redness at the site of injection for a few days, a mild fever and/or tiredness.

This is a sign that your body’s immune system is reacting and creating antibodies against the vaccine, which is what the vaccine is for!

Vaccines are rigorously tested and monitored.

They are one of the safest medical products for human beings.

There are rare cases that lead to death, such as due to anaphylactic shock or infections.

But these are so rare, compared to the millions and millions of people saved from getting the actual diseases.

You are far, far, far more likely to die from contracting the disease than you are from dying due to the vaccine that is given to prevent it.

Then why are there so many Internet articles on how dangerous vaccines are?

There is a large community of anti-vaxxers. This is called vaccine opposition.

It is not new at all. There have been anti-vaxxers as long as there have been vaccines.

There were people who refused vaccines back in the early 1800s when vaccination for smallpox started.

They simply did not like the idea of injecting a cowpox blister into their bodies to prevent them from getting smallpox.

Some people even said it went against their religion.

Then in the 1970s, some people opposed the DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine because they claimed it caused neurological problems.

When this was studied, it was found that the risk of this were very low – certainly not high enough to justify preventing babies from receiving protection against these three infectious diseases.

That is why many countries have passed laws to make vaccinations compulsory for babies and young children as a public health measure.

The community of anti-vaxxers persists until today.

Are you one of them?

If you are, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers you one of the top 10 biggest threats to public health.

Why do many people oppose vaccines then?

If you are an anti-vaxxer, you should examine your own reasons for opposing them.

Some people oppose vaccines due to the perceived side effects.

It has already been concluded that the risk of these side effects occurring is very small, compared to the benefits of receiving the vaccine.

It is like going out in a car.

Could you get into an accident and be killed?

Yes, of course!

But the risks of getting into an accident are very small compared to the efficiency in which a car can get you to and from all the places you want to go.

You would even drive your kids in your car without really thinking about the possibility of getting into an accident, but when it comes to getting them a vaccine, all you can think about is the risk of side effects?

They are both similar situations, after all.

Some people also say that receiving a particular vaccine is against their religion.

But most religions do not condemn vaccines.

Are there any other reasons people refuse vaccination?

Some people don’t believe vaccines can prevent these diseases because they say it is all a big conspiracy between Big Pharma and the world’s governments.

If that were the case, then why have so many vaccine-preventable diseases decreased so much around the world?

Some people believe vaccines, especially the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, cause autism.

This has not been proven to be true, despite many studies done to examine this by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Yet others believe that if these diseases have been eradicated, then there is no need to vaccinate against them anymore.

This is not true. The diseases will start to spread widely again once you stop vaccinating against them as the microorganisms that cause them have not been completely eradicated.

The only disease that has been successfully eradicated through vaccination is smallpox, which is why no one needs to be vaccinated against it today.

Some people also prefer so-called “natural” methods.

As they claim that they themselves got diseases like measles, mumps and rubella, in their own childhood and have survived without lasting harm, allowing their children to get these diseases is a “better” way of naturally protecting the body.

Well, while they may have been fortunate to recover well from these diseases, many children who get them do suffer from severe and long-lasting complications, and some even die from them!

Natural or homeopathic treatments also do not prevent diseases.

Part two for this topic will be online on April 8 (2021).

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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