The topic of vaccinations has been all of the news in recent months, especially since deadly diseases that were once only pieces of history have been appearing in emergency rooms. Vaccines were introduced to lessen threats of measles, rubella, polio, and other diseases that were once prevalent in the U.S. Yet modern parents have received mixed (and sometimes false) information about diseases and led to believe that vaccines cause autism and other serious side effects.
Here is some information from reliable sources about what vaccines really do, which vaccines are recommended, and how parents can find common ground between vaccinations and natural health.
What Do Vaccines Do?
Vaccines work by exposing the body to a very small and weakened form of a disease so that the immune system can build up defenses against it if exposed later in life. Vaccines imitate an infection but very rarely cause illnesses, although minor symptoms like fever may arise. Multiple doses are required of some vaccines because their immunity wears off over time or because the first dose alone doesn’t provide as much immunity as the body needs.
In the U.S., we’ve forgotten how devastating some of these diseases are because they simply aren’t prevalent anymore. But that’s because vaccines have been effective, potentially saving the lives of thousands of children.
Myths and Facts About Vaccines
Millions of children around the world die from vaccine-preventable illnesses each year, but this is largely due to lack of supply and poor storage methods in other countries. In the U.S., where vaccines are readily available, children are most often not vaccinated due to myths their parents believe.
According to Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health at WHO and co-Chair of the Gavi Board, there is no scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism, and administering multiple vaccines in one doctor visit does not negatively impact a child’s immune system. There is also no scientific evidence that vaccines cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and it is highly unlikely that a vaccine could cause any disease to form. In almost all cases, vaccines are a safe way to protect the body against deadly diseases and a way to prevent the spread of disease throughout the world.
Which Vaccines Are Recommended?
We often think of vaccines as an issue for parents of young children, but teenagers and adults benefit from vaccines as well. The CDC lists the recommended vaccinations by age on its website, starting with the first three doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine before a baby even leaves the hospital.
The next vaccines that a baby receives, between the ages of one to two months, are diphtheria/tetanus/whooping cough, haemophilus influenzae Type B, polio, pneumococcal, and rotavirus. This list goes all the way up to age 60 or older, with recommended vaccines for the elderly being the influenza vaccine, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, and the shingles vaccine.
Vaccines and Natural Health
On the surface, it might seem counterintuitive to believe in the benefits of vaccines while living a natural health lifestyle. However, many naturopathic doctors encourage their patients to get vaccinated because the scientific evidence is clear that vaccines are effective and safe in preventing certain diseases.
Vaccines have helped humans eliminate threats as immune systems evolve over generations, and there is a great public health benefit to preventing the worldwide spread of disease. They are an essential component of preventative medicine and compliment various natural health strategies, such as eating nutritious foods, adding natural supplements to the diet to address deficiencies, and using homeopathic remedies to treat and prevent disease.
Undoubtedly, vaccines will continue to be a hot topic of debate in our society for many years to come. But before you make any decisions for yourself or your children, talk to a trusted medical professional to weigh the pros and cons of vaccination and distinguish the myths from the truth.