Debunking Myths About Childhood Vaccinations: Insights from Biologist Antonina Oblasova

2023-12-06 05:50:23

Often parents are ready to vaccinate their children on schedule, but something gets in the way. Either “winter is not the right season,” then “the child has snot,” or “while the immune system is weakened.” Popular myths about vaccinations are analyzed by biologist and director of the ANO “Collective Immunity” Antonina Oblasova.

Antonina Oblasova

Myth 1. If a child has a strong immune system and usually does not get sick, then you can wait with some vaccinations.

Unfortunately, we do not have any reliable tool to measure immunity. The fact that a child does not have ARVI is not an indicator. It is impossible to calculate individual risks for a child. Even perfectly healthy children who have never been sick can suddenly become ill and even die from a preventable infection. Vaccination was not invented out of a whim, but because children were dying from diseases and the task was to prevent this.

Myth 2. The child did not tolerate the vaccination well, he developed a fever, so wouldn’t it have been better to get over the disease?

A short-term rise in temperature is a small and quite reasonable price to pay for what we get in return. Vaccine-preventable diseases cause quite serious illnesses that can cause serious health problems both in the short term and in the future.

Paralysis from polio, a hundred-day suffocating cough from whooping cough, brain damage from meningitis and tissue necrosis from sepsis are on the other side of the scale.

Even from simple chickenpox you can die. Vaccination allows you to reduce risks and, moreover, stop or at least reduce the spread of infection.

Myth 3. The child was vaccinated, but he still got sick – now I doubt other vaccinations.

When we talk about vaccination, it’s about reducing risks, not guarantees. Vaccinated people get sick much less often than unvaccinated people. If they get sick, they often tolerate the disease more easily.

The prognosis of the disease is also unknown, we don’t know who will get sick and how. Some will have a fever for a couple of days, while others will end up in intensive care. The risks of illness are much higher.

Comparing the risks of vaccination and the risks of refusing it, we choose the safer option. What in our world has at least some guarantees? But we are always making efforts to improve the forecast. Although this does not always work out.

Myth 4. Some people say that you can’t wash after vaccination, others that you can’t rub it. What is right?

For some reason, vaccination is perceived by many as some kind of extraordinary procedure, for which one must prepare and observe a bunch of prohibitions afterwards. But in reality, this is a routine procedure and all recommendations boil down to behaving according to how you feel.

Myth 5. Before each vaccination, you need to undergo a full medical examination in case something is wrong in the body.

If something is wrong in the body, then there is a higher risk of infectious diseases, which means an indication for vaccination, and not vice versa. Therefore, before vaccination, an examination and interview of the patient is sufficient.

Abroad, there is no such reverent attitude towards vaccination, and you can get vaccinated against many infections right at the pharmacy, even without an examination: if you come on your own, then you can get vaccinated.

Of course, there are a number of contraindications to vaccination, but it is a mistake to think that the presence of a contraindication means that vaccination is dangerous.

The bulk of contraindications are designed to ensure maximum effectiveness and reduce the likelihood of complications from other diseases coinciding with the post-vaccination period. When you start looking at medical outlets from this point of view, everything falls into place.

Myth 6. Going to the clinic for vaccination will only result in you getting infected from others.

If everything in the clinic is well organized, the flows are separated, then the risk is minimal. But often this is not the case. However, they usually become infected there with something not very serious, such as ARVI. And this, in general, is a natural and integral part of childhood and one of the components of the development of the child’s immune system. So there is no big problem in this. But it wouldn’t hurt to improve the organization.

Myth 7. You can’t get vaccinated in winter, it’s flu season.

So what if it’s flu season? If you can go to the garden and work, then you can get vaccinated. I repeat, vaccination is not some kind of event on a universal scale. But if we start from false ideas and think, for example, that this is a load, then even applying logic, we will come to a false conclusion.

Myth 8. A quarantine has been declared in the garden. Why are other scheduled vaccinations prohibited?

Because they don’t know the regulatory framework. These actions are completely illegal and expose children to unnecessary risks. The ignorance of those who do this makes people angry and upset.

I just encountered this situation personally. My daughter is being denied vaccinations against whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus and polio due to the chickenpox quarantine only because our clinic has “always done it this way.” That is, they have been breaking the law for many years and are so used to it that they themselves believe that it is right. And no one does anything, even when you contact them directly, pointing out violations. Traditions are more important than laws and common sense. And all again from ignorance and the fears it generates.

Myth 9. A vaccinated child needs to stay at home for three days so as not to become infected with something else “on top” of the vaccination.

This is another bad advice and fantasies of individual incompetent specialists who are accustomed to working as they were told, and not as is correct. This is not in any document or textbook, but in almost every clinic someone advises this nonsense.

If this were so, there would be no such thing as vaccination in kindergarten and school, and the law would provide for sick leave for parents after each vaccination. This is a very harmful gag. It creates an aura of anxiety around vaccination, as if getting sick while being vaccinated is very dangerous, although this is not the case.

Myth 10. What happens if you delay vaccination a little? Sometimes even a doctor advises this.

If vaccination is delayed, the child will receive protection later and until that moment will remain vulnerable to very serious diseases, which are more dangerous the earlier they are contracted. It’s like putting off buying winter boots until spring and being cold all winter. A very dubious “saving” at the cost of your own health. We also owe it to her for the current outbreak of measles and whooping cough.

Vaccination should be postponed if the child has real contraindications, for example, he is seriously ill, and the likelihood of contracting the disease for which the vaccination was planned is low. This way we will reduce the likelihood that some consequences of the disease will be mistaken for the consequences of vaccination.

Typically, vaccination in such cases is resumed 2–4 weeks after recovery.

But if such a child comes into contact with a patient with measles, then he can be vaccinated against it (emergency). It won’t be dangerous for him.

There are a number of true contraindications in which routine vaccination may be postponed. Their list is usually listed in the instructions for the vaccine, and it is much shorter than what most people think is a reason to postpone vaccinations. For example, mild ARVI and prematurity are not included.

Myth 11. Immunity after illness is stronger than after vaccination – is this true?

We cannot compare only what we get as a result of illness and as a result of vaccination. We also need to compare what we “spend”. And if we take into account these expenses (risks), it turns out that vaccination is more effective: it provides sufficient immunity, sometimes lifelong, sometimes one that needs to be “renewed” with revaccinations throughout life. Sometimes even short-term immunity is enough because the risk associated with diseases is associated with certain ages or circumstances. It is an effective risk management tool. If it were better to get sick, vaccinations would not have appeared at all.


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