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Unfortunately, there are many myths and false claims about vaccines. They are as old as vaccines themselves. These claims have been consistently and repeatedly disproved by scientific evidence. Here are some examples:
This statement is partly true. However, improvements in hygiene do not explain the dramatic decline in vaccine-preventable diseases, nor its correlation with vaccination coverage levels. Nor can it explain certain specific achievements due to vaccination, such as smallpox eradication and polio elimination.
This statement is partly true. They are rare diseases, but the micro-organisms that cause them still exist and circulate around the world. They can infect any unprotected person. It is important to remember the concepts of individual protection and herd immunity.
This statement is false. Vaccines provoke an immune response similar to that of natural infection, but at the same time prevent the disease and its complications, which can be very serious, from developing.
This statement is an incorrect interpretation of the reality of the situation. In any outbreak or epidemic, there is always a proportion of vaccinated and unvaccinated people. There are many vaccinated people, and their risk of infection is low. There are few unvaccinated people, and their risk of infection is high. Data always requires analysis: what is the proportion of cases among the unvaccinated versus the vaccinated?
This statement is false. The risk of infectious disease is highest in a child’s first years of life, with a higher risk of complicated disease and death. Delaying vaccination leaves children in a vulnerable situation.
This statement is false. Practically no vaccine currently in use contains thiomersal. Thiomersal accounts for 0.1% of all human exposure to mercury. The mercury that is still used in some vaccines (ethylmercury) poses no risk to health. Toxic mercury is methylmercury, which is not a component of vaccines.
This statement is false. There has never been any evidence of harm or poisoning from aluminium linked to vaccination. There are many other much more significant and common natural sources of aluminium exposure.
This statement is false. It has been overwhelmingly demonstrated that there is no link between autism and vaccines. The study (published in The Lancet in 1998) that suggested this possibility was shown to be a case of fraud. It was retracted and its author (Andrew Wakefield) was struck off the General Medical Council and is barred from practising medicine in the UK.