Alarmist? Compare the risks of the diseases versus the risk of the vaccines :
Risk from Disease versus Risk from Vaccines
Measles and Rubella vs. MMR Vaccine
Even one serious adverse event in a million doses of vaccine cannot be justified if there is no benefit from the vaccination. If there were no vaccines, there would be many more cases of disease, and along with the more disease, there would be serious sequelae and more deaths. But looking at risk alone is not enough - you must always look at both risks and benefits. Comparing the risk from disease with the risk from the vaccines can give us an idea of the benefits we get from vaccinating our children.
Pneumonia: 6 in 100
Encephalitis: 1 in 1,000
Death: 2 in 1,000
Congenital Rubella Syndrome: 1 in 4 (if woman becomes infected early in pregnancy)
Encephalitis or severe allergic reaction:
1 in 1,000,000
Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vs. DTap Vaccine
Death: 1 in 20
Death: 2 in 10
Pneumonia: 1 in 8
Encephalitis: 1 in 20
Death: 1 in 1,500
Continuous crying, then full recovery: 1 in 1000
Convulsions or shock, then full recovery: 1 in 14,000
Acute encephalopathy: 0-10.5 in 1,000,000
Death: None proven
The fact is that a child is far more likely to be seriously injured by one of these diseases than by any vaccine. While any serious injury or death caused by vaccines is too many, it is also clear that the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the slight risk, and that many, many more injuries and deaths would occur without vaccinations. In fact, to have a medical intervention as effective as vaccination in preventing disease and not use it would be unconscionable.
Research is underway by the U.S. Public Health Service to better understand which vaccine adverse events are truly caused by vaccines and how to reduce even further the already low risk of serious vaccine-related injury.
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MISCONCEPTION #5. Vaccine-preventable diseases have been virtually eliminated from the United States, so there is no need for my child to be vaccinated.
It's true that vaccination has enabled us to reduce most vaccine-preventable diseases to very low levels in the United States. However, some of them are still quite prevalent - even epidemic - in other parts of the world. Travelers can unknowingly bring these diseases into the United States, and if we were not protected by vaccinations these diseases could quickly spread throughout the population, causing epidemics here. At the same time, the relatively few cases we currently have in the U.S. could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases without the protection we get from vaccines.
We should still be vaccinated, then, for two reasons. The first is to protect ourselves. Even if we think our chances of getting any of these diseases are small, the diseases still exist and can still infect anyone who is not protected. Travelers are especially vulnerable. A few years ago a 63 year old U.S. traveler to Haiti caught diphtheria and died -he had never been vaccinated. In 2005 and 2006, outbreaks of measles and mumps occurred in several states within the U.S. The measles outbreak began in a group of travelers (who had not been vaccinated) upon their return from a trip to Romania where they had been exposed to measles.
The second reason to get vaccinated is to protect those around us. A small number of persons cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons such as a severe allergy to vaccine components, and a small percentage simply do not respond to vaccines. These persons are susceptible to disease, and their only hope of protection is that people around them have been successfully vaccinated and cannot pass disease along to them. A successful vaccination program, like a successful society, depends on the cooperation of every individual to ensure the good for all. We would think it irresponsible of a driver to ignore all traffic regulations on the presumption that other drivers will watch out for him or her. In the same way, we shouldn't rely on people around us to stop the spread of disease if we ourselves can be vaccinated. We must all do what we can.