The choice to vaccinate a child or not is a treacherous one for most parents. It can be very difficult to know what is in their best interests when there are strong opinions in each direction. We want to know, could vaccination be dangerous for your child and of course, what the potential risks of not vaccinating might be.
We are often left feeling anxious and concerned, uncertain of the correct answer to these questions as we are faced to make a choice as to whether to vaccinate or not.
TGH wants to dig into the two sides of this argument, to present a summary of thoughts that can help you to make an informed choice. We will start at the beginning, by looking at the purpose of vaccines.
Purpose of Childhood Vaccines
Childhood vaccines exist to protect children from various diseases, many of which can be deadly.
The purpose of vaccination is to produce immunity. Immunity means the presence in a person’s body of cells and substances known as antibodies that can produce a protective immune response. – MyDr.com
What Is In A Vaccination?
Each vaccine contains a small amount of the disease germ (virus or bacteria) or parts of the germ that the doctor’s are aiming to immunise against, but that is not all.
The three main substances contained in a vaccines are:
- Adjuvant or enhancers – these are used to stimulate the immune system to respond quickly and effectively to the disease germ.
- Stabilizers – these stop the vaccine from deteriorating when exposed to changes in the environment (for example light and temperature).
- Preservatives – these increase the shelf life of the vaccine.
There is some controversy around a couple of choices of vaccine ingredients, especially aluminium, thimerosal and formaldehyde. Research has shown, however, that babies are exposed to more aluminum in breast milk or infant formula than through vaccines. Today’s vaccines are safer than ever, with some claims that they are safer than vitamins. The greatest risk is considered to be when children are not vaccinated.
It has been suggested that the use of vaccines with thimerosal (a preservative) could theoretically push an infant’s total exposure of mercury, a neurotoxin, above safe limits. Some research has suggested that thimerosal in vaccines may increase the risk of the mitochondrial disorder, a rare condition that can show symptoms of autism, although there is also research to the contrary.
The rising number of children with autism or childhood leukaemia has not been connected with thimerosal, as several demographic analyses have found that these rates continued to rise even after the ingredient was removed from all vaccines except some flu shots.
Still, due to the questions around thimerosal, it has been recommended that the substance is removed from shots.