Debunking Myths of Immunizations from Dr. DeMeyere-Coursey
About the Author
Dr. DeMeyere-Coursey chose to practice medicine at Paladina Health because she wants to be a part of the innovative changes coming to the delivery of primary care. She strives to spend productive time with her patients in an environment that fosters individualized, whole-person care.
As a physician, my goal is to be respectful of my patients’ wishes while also educating them, to the best of my knowledge, on all things medically related. Immunizations have risen as a controversial topic, really spiking since a well-known celebrity mother voraciously purported that vaccinations can lead to autism. Since then, I’ve watched the debate grow, I’ve done my own research, and I’ve come to a few conclusions of my own that I believe are useful to know – For all parties, pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine alike. Here are some of the more common statements I hear and my take on those statements:
Myth #1: Vaccines cause autism.
In the 1990s, a paper was published linking immunizations to autism. In later years, this study was proven to be fraudulent by subsequent papers as well as 10 of 13 original authors retracted their contributions to the paper.
Myth #2: Big pharma is in it for the money.
Yes, pharmaceutical companies make money from selling vaccinations. However, illness is far more expensive. In fact, research has shown that between the years of 1994-2013, vaccines created a net savings of $295 billion dollars directly and $1.3 trillion societally.
What’s more, pharmaceutical companies make 2 to 5 times as much money from the drugs that they sell for illness, as compared to the annual flu vaccine. In fact, of the top 20 drugs sold annually by large pharmaceutical companies, the flu vaccine doesn’t even make the list.
Myth #3: Vaccines contain toxic chemicals like aluminum and mercury.
Dosing is important to understand. If anyone ingests any large amount of a substance, it can become toxic. However, the amount of aluminum in a vaccine averages only to around 0.125mg per dose. The average human consumes 30-50mg of aluminum in their daily diet. Additionally, while the amount of mercury used in a vaccination falls under the same umbrella, it was removed from almost all childhood vaccines in 2001 after the public protested its presence.
Given this information, it remains our medical opinion that vaccinations are safe. They are life-prolonging, and we believe their benefits far outweigh their risks. If you have concerns regarding immunizations, like flu shots, we invite you to talk to your Paladina Health provider.
Myth #4: “Every time I get the flu shot, I get the flu”
The flu virus that exists in the immunization is a piece of a dead virus, and dead viruses will not replicate in a person’s body to give them their associated illness. However, there is such a thing as a reactive inflammatory response which can occur when someone gets any immunization. The body will naturally look at what is in the shot and your immune system will (appropriately) mount a small reaction to it. Most will feel fine, but a small portion may not feel well as a result. This will pass and it is not because your body has been injected with a live virus.
I imagine the debate will continue, and I invite all my patients to bring me their questions if they are sitting on the fence. At the end of the day, it remains my medical opinion that vaccinations are safe, they are life-prolonging, and their benefits by far outweigh their risks. Talk to your physician if you have concerns or worries regarding immunizations for yourself or those you love.