5 persistent myths about vaccines and immunisation
In many industries, vaccination is an essential part of prevention programmes. However, not all employees are keen on getting vaccinated, usually because they believe it is unnecessary or they are misinformed.
Vaccines are made up of dead or weakened pathogens and prepare the body to fight disease by helping develop immunity. This means that when ‘real’ pathogens enter your body, causing you to get sick, your body will produce the necessary antibodies much more quickly. This is crucial when fighting off diseases such as yellow fever and polio, but also the flu, tetanus, hepatitis and measles, for instance.
Nevertheless, many people are convinced that vaccination is of no benefit or even harmful. These are the four most common myths about vaccines:
- “The vaccine will make me sick”
It is true that in some cases, vaccines may cause temporary, mild reactions such as a low-grade fever or muscle aches. One in five people who receive the yellow fever vaccine will experience mild headaches or muscle aches. But these far outweigh the potential risks associated with the disease: two out of five non-vaccinated people who develop yellow fever will die.
There is also the misconception that vaccination leads to autism, MS, HIV or cancer. These false claims have been around for many years and are debunked by science time and time again.
- “Vaccinations overburden and weaken the immune system”
Even though this is categorically incorrect, many people still often claim that vaccinations are hazardous for the immune system, but in fact, the opposite is true. The immune system is stimulated by the vaccine, as a sort of initial introduction to the bacterium or virus, as it were. The body learns to correctly respond to this so that the bacteria or viruses cannot cause illnesses when you come into contact with them later. The claim that you get stronger by just suffering through an illness on your own is also unfounded.
- “Vaccination is not necessary if I just maintain good hygiene”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Many infectious diseases spread irrespective of the level of hygiene you maintain. In addition, some viruses spread from sewage, contaminated water, or mosquito bites. A brief moment of carelessness can lead to weeks of absence from work or even lifelong paralysis or death.
- “I can get vaccinated later”
Postponing vaccination puts you at an unnecessary risk. Making sure you get vaccinated at the recommended times will benefit your health. Some diseases are easily passed on from one person to another, so by receiving the vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself but also the people around you.
It is important to remember that certain vaccines, such as the yellow fever vaccine or the tetanus vaccine, only provide protection up to ten years, after which it is recommended or legally required to get vaccinated again.
- “Dangerous infectious diseases are almost eradicated in Belgium”
Thanks to the mandatory vaccination schedule for children in Belgium, the occurrence of many dangerous infectious diseases has been reduced to virtually nil. But even if these diseases were fully eradicated in our regions, vaccination would still be crucial. It only takes one person carrying an infectious disease and entering our country to create the risk of an epidemic.
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Find out how the right workplace immunisation programme can protect your workers. Contact us on +32 2 549 71 00 or at email@example.com.