If there was a magic pill that prevented a deadly disease, would you take it? Immunizations are one of the great success stories in health care history. Many vaccines have been proven safe through scientific studies and decades of data. Tune in to this video to learn more about immunizations and debunk the myths that threatened society’s wellness.
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If there was a magic pill available, and it prevented a deadly disease, would you take it? What if that pill was proven to be safe through decades of scientific studies? Well, luckily, we don’t have to rely on magic.
We have immunizations.
Immunizations are one of the great success stories in health care history. As recently as the 1950s, thousands of children died every year from diseases like tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. Did you have chicken pox as a kid? I did, and I’ll never forget it. Even these more recent diseases are now preventable through the use of immunizations.
You’ve likely heard people say both “immunizations” and “vaccinations.” These terms are interchangeable.
And you might be wondering how they work. While it sounds like magic, it’s really just science. Vaccinations contain the same germs that cause the disease you’re trying to prevent. So, for example, measles vaccines contain the measles virus. But those germs have been either killed or weakened to the point that they don’t actually make you sick.
A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies. It’s basically like being exposed to the disease without having to suffer any of the symptoms. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to the disease, without having to get the disease first. Unlike most medicines that treat or cure diseases, vaccines actually prevent them from happening in the first place. Pretty cool, huh?
Now, we’ve all heard myths about vaccines from friends or seen those scary posts on social media. But how safe are they really? Let’s walk through the facts and debunk some of those common myths.
Autism is a life-changing diagnosis that has a significant impact on children and their families. As a parent, it would be terrifying to believe that my decision to vaccinate my child resulted in this diagnosis. It’s so important for parents to know that there’s a vast amount of evidence showing vaccines do not cause autism. Science has shown us that autism is caused by developmental changes that occur during the second trimester of pregnancy. This means a child is likely to have autism before he or she leaves the womb. It could be comforting for a parent to know this happens well before any vaccines are introduced to the baby’s system.
It’s true. Some vaccines contain things like formaldehyde, mercury and aluminum. And anyone with a newborn baby might find this really unsettling. What could be scarier than injecting your vulnerable new child with toxins? And why are these chemicals in there in the first place? According to the CDC, there’s just enough of these chemicals to prevent contamination and kill viruses during the manufacturing process. In larger doses these ingredients would be toxic, but in vaccines, they're used in such tiny amounts, that the body has no problem metabolizing and cleansing itself from these trace amounts. Fun Fact: Your body actually produces more formaldehyde naturally than what’s included in a vaccine.
To put it simply, this one just isn’t true
There are decades of scientific evidence that prove vaccinations are 95 to 100 percent effective. Just check sources like the CDC or American Academy of Pediatrics. And if you’re not one to dig into medical studies, you can look at the history of diseases like measles. Between 1958 and 1962, more than 500,000 measles cases were reported, and 432 people died. In 1965, a vaccine was introduced, and it began a 33-year downward trend. By 1998, only 89 cases were reported. Zero deaths.
Vaccines are recommended throughout a person’s lifetime, with specific immunizations recommended at different ages. There’s actually a set schedule of vaccinations that’s reviewed three times a year by the CDC and approved by a variety of doctors’ groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians, among others.
Some people think these schedules are too aggressive or too much for a young child. However, the timing is determined by decades of medical evidence showing there's an optimal window of time when vaccines are most effective. There’s other benefits to bundling the immunizations. It results in less visits to the doctor, fewer injections and, as a result, lower out-of-pocket expenses.
Now, it’s no secret that our world has changed since COVID-19 came the scene. As scientists work to quickly develop a vaccine for the virus, it’s important to continue to get the preventative vaccines that are already recommended by experts. Early indicators show that kids are beginning to miss these needed doses because their parents are afraid to take them to the doctor during the pandemic. Many pediatricians are implementing new protocols to keep patients safe, including doing house calls and using mobile immunization units. Call your child’s doctor to learn more about your options for keeping them on track with their vaccinations.
So, why should you get vaccinated? It could save your life, or the life of someone around you. The CDC estimates that the last 20 years of vaccines are preventing 21 million hospitalizations. And get this: 732-thousand lives are being saved.
Immunizations are also very cost-effective. For every dollar spent, vaccinations save more than $5 in direct costs and approximately $11 in additional taxpayer costs. Childhood vaccines alone are projected to save $13.5 billion in direct costs. And for society as a whole? We’ll be saving $68.8 billion.
But there’s still work to do to make sure everyone gets vaccinated, especially in Texas. From 2005-2015, 100,000 Texans suffered from vaccine-preventable disease, resulting in more than 11-hundred deaths. We can do much better.
You should always discuss your child’s vaccinations with their pediatrician. And yes, there are some vaccinations that adults need as well. You can ask your own primary care doctor about any recommended booster shots in adulthood. If you have health insurance, the majority of the preventative immunizations are available with no co-pays or cost-sharing at an in-network provider.
There are also resources available to help if you don’t have insurance and aren’t able to afford vaccines. One such organization is the Texas Care Van program, which is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. The Care Vans are mobile healthcare clinics that travel the state and provide preventative services, including vaccines, at no charge. For more information, call 1-866-806-SHOTS or visit the Care Van website.
There’s a lot of information and opinions out there about vaccinations. But once you take a look at the facts, it seems like a no-brainer. Get vaccinated to protect your family—and your fellow Texans.
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