The World Health Organization estimates that more than three million lives are saved every year by disease-preventing vaccinations.
In Canada, parents are advised to have their babies immunized against 13 preventable diseases. The vaccines are free to the public.
But there’s currently a growing debate among parents about whether or not to immunize their children.
Anti-vaccine advocates say new evidence suggests that immunizations can damage a child’s developing immune system and brain, leading to disorders like autism, ADHD, allergies, and more.
The Public Health Agency of Canada maintains that vaccines are among the safest tools of modern medicine. The Agency notes five misconceptions about immunization and vaccine safety:
X There are many serious side effects from vaccines.
- Serious side effects occur less than once per million doses.
- No long-term effects have been associated with any vaccine currently in use.
- Side effects are typically minor and temporary, including a sore arm or fever.
X Some vaccines can cause autism or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Vaccines are sometimes blamed for unrelated conditions that can appear in an infant’s first year. However, scientists have yet to find a link between vaccinations and autism or SIDS.
X Vaccine-preventable diseases don’t exist in Canada anymore, so there is no need for my child to be immunized.
- Diseases that are very rare in Canada are still common in other parts of the world. It’s important to vaccinate children to prevent the spread of diseases possibly imported from other countries.
- Immunizations are important to protect not only your own children but also to protect others in the community.
X Immunizing a child against multiple diseases with one needle can overload the immune system.
- Extensive testing ensures that combination vaccinations are safe for children. The benefit is fewer needles for children and parents.
X Many people who are immunized still get the disease, and this proves that vaccines don’t work.
- No vaccine is 100% effective. About 10-15% of people vaccinated will not develop immunity to the disease. But it’s still critical to have children vaccinated in order to prevent widespread disease.
There are currently no compulsory immunization laws in B.C. Parents are encouraged to talk to their family doctor about any concerns they might have about vaccines and their children’s immunizations.