Vaccines are unsafe.
For opponents of immunisation, one of the major concerns is that vaccines cause harm, whether or not they prevent disease. In general, no biological product can be considered 100% safe. However, all vaccines available in Australia are required to pass quality, safety and efficacy requirements before they can be approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Infectious diseases are not serious and are a normal part of growing up.
Some parents believe that the vaccine preventable diseases of childhood do not cause serious illness and are a normal part of a child's growth. In Australia, in the ten years between 1989 and 1998 there were 581 recorded deaths from diseases preventable by vaccines on the current childhood immunisation schedule, with 440 deaths from hepatitis B, 88 deaths from Haemophilus influenzae type b, 1 death from diphtheria, 19 from measles and its complications, 14 from pertussis, 3 from mumps, and 16 from tetanus. There were 21 deaths recorded fom 1993 till 2005 from whooping cough.
Improved living standards and sanitation have reduced the incidence of infectious diseases, not immunisation.
It is often said that factors other than immunisation are responsible for the decline of communicable diseases. There are many reasons for the decline in communicable diseases, and an improved living standard is one of them. However, vaccination has also had a clear and significant impact. Measles and pertussis are spread by coughing and sneezing and the attack rates are almost 100% no matter what the living and cleanliness standards are. Polio is caused by an intestinal virus which spreads more easily under conditions of poor hygiene, but has caused epidemics in countries like Holland, Finland and Israel, all of which have high standards of hygiene. All the vaccine preventable diseases have shown dramatic reductions in incidence after the introduction of vaccination.
The vaccines don't do their job because some immunised children still get sick.
Some parents believe that, since some children still get infected with vaccine-preventable diseases, then the vaccines don't work. While it's true that no vaccine has a 100% efficacy rate, there is a simple link between the numbers of vaccinated children, the vaccine's effectiveness and the number of vaccine failures. For example, measles will attack 100% of a non-immunised population, but where the vaccination has been given, 95% of the population will not get the disease if they are exposed to it.
The side effects of DTP include brain damage.
The DTP vaccine contains material that will produce immunity to tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. During the 1970s there was concern that the pertussis part of the vaccination could cause brain damage and encephalopathy, but as a result of ongoing and extensive scientific studies, it has been proven that there is no risk. Not immunising your child against pertussis, however, can lead to brain damage in the event of the disease being contracted.
Vaccines cause the diseases they are supposed to prevent.
Live vaccines such as the MMR vaccine can display symptoms that replicate the diseases it is vaccinating against; however, these symptoms are not contagious and are not part of the actual diseases. In extremely rare cases, the oral version of the polio vaccination - which his no longer used in Australia - could cause paralysis at a rate of 1 in 2.5 million doses.
Vaccines suppress the immune system.
It is sometimes argued that vaccines can actually suppress the immune system. The only time this has been seen to happen was following the use of high-titre measles vaccines - which have never been used in Australia. There is no evidence that this can occur in any other vaccines.
Additives in vaccines are toxic.
Formaldehyde (used in the preparation of several vaccines), thiomersal (used as a preservative in several vaccines) and aluminium (used in some vaccine adjuvants) are additives that work to enhance the efficacy or lifespan of a vaccine. These ingredients have been assessed as safe and necessary by The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Vaccines cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Some people believe that vaccination causes SIDS because a proportion of children who die as a result of SIDS have recently been immunised. There is actual no link between the two beyond the fact that, as babies are immunised every two months for the first six months of their life, and children are most vulnerable to SIDS at this age, it should come as no surprise that a certain percentage of babies who died from SIDS were, coincidentally, recently vaccinated.
MMR vaccine causes inflammatory bowel disease and autism.
Suggestions that the MMR vaccine can cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and autism came about in 1998 as a result of research that focussed on the decreased absorption of vitamins and minerals due to IBD in children and its resulting developmental disorders including autism. Since 1998 there has been ongoing research and the initial research has been retracted by The Lancet, the journal in which it appeared. Lead author of the study Andrew Wakefield was barred from medical practice in 2010. The study was also accused of being an "elaborate fraud" by the British Medical Journal in 2011.
After an extensive study of 6,100 French school-aged children, it has been conclusively proven that there is no association between the MMR vaccine and either autism or IBD.
Hepatitis B vaccine causes multiple sclerosis (MS).
There was concern over the association of multiple sclerosis and the hepatitis b vaccine after a mass vaccination program in France showed a few cases of MS or MS-like illness associated with hepatitis b vaccine. After halting the program, the data was examined and it was shown that the incidence of the onset of MS in vaccinated people fell within the normal boundaries of the entire population. Mass hepatitis b immunisation programs in New Zealand, Taiwan and Alaska have not shown any illnesses that suggest MS.
Vaccines are cultured on cell lines of aborted foetuses.
While bacteria can self-replicate, viruses are parasites and exist by repeatedly invading other cells. Most viruses are specific to the types of cells they live in, and so can only be developed as a vaccine by using these specific cells. Rubella can only live in human cells, and so the rubella part of the MMR vaccine used in Australia has been adapted to a human cell culture. This cell culture originally came from human foetal lung tissue of a foetus aborted at approximately 3 months gestation of a Caucasian female in about 1966. No new tissue has been added since the original samples were taken over 30 years ago and the cells, although uniform, no longer resemble the originals. No other foetal tissue is used to manufacture or research the rubella vaccine. The chicken pox (varicella) vaccine is also grown on a human cell line originally taken from a foetus many years ago and the varicella virus used in the vaccine strain originated in a young boy infected with chicken pox.
Immunisation is unnatural.
Vaccines provide the same exposure to the immune system as an infection, but without the disease, so objecting to immunisation because it's 'not natural' makes no sense. Through immunisation, the body's immune system is made to work in the way it was intended. Waiting for 'natural' exposure to a contagious disease will not in any way make the immune system better or stronger.
Homeopathic vaccines offer an alternative.
The Medical Association for Homoeopathy recommends orthodox immunisation with standard vaccines. There have been few studies conducted of homeopathic "vaccines" and as all the studies available do not address any of the diseases on the immunisation schedule, it is difficult to conclude whether homeopathic preparations are effective or not.
Some vaccines are no longer necessary.
Just because diseases such as measles are now rare, don't be fooled into thinking that they are not serious. The vaccine preventable diseases are severe and immunisation prevents them.
This article was originally written by Ella Walsh and updated by Choice in May 2013. Sources include Immunise Australia Program, Raising Children Network, Health Insite, and Medicare Australia. Sourced with permission from kidspot.com.au.