Vaccines have changed the world for the better.
In 2018, it should be possible to utter the statement above and not have it be seen as controversial. Sadly, for some people, claiming that vaccines have had a hugely beneficial impact on humanity is seen as controversial. Welcome to the puzzling world of “anti-vaxxers”.
Anti-vaxxers are a group of people who believe two things:
- Vaccines have not been beneficial to humanity (despite the eradication of diseases such as smallpox)
- Vaccines are actively harming humanity
If you’re a vaccine-advocate, then arguing back against these statements can be incredibly difficult. It has become harder and harder over the past decade or so to stand up for vaccines, even though the world would be better off if there was 100% utilisation of measles inoculations and businesses offered flu vaccinations every winter as standard. Anti-vaxxers tend to be very vocal, which can make them feel impossible to respond to. However, it’s always useful to have a few responses primed and ready should someone try to tell you an anti-vax myth as if it is fact, and we’ve put together a handy guide to allow you to do just that…
“Vaccines cause autism.”
This one is tiresome, but it’s so common we have to mention it. Here’s how you debunk it:
- The doctor who claimed that vaccines caused autism used flawed science and was struck off the medical register.
- There is literally no proof that vaccines do cause autism.
- Even if vaccines do cause autism (which they don’t, but even if), autism is a life-damaging condition, but it’s not life-threatening. Many of the illnesses that there are vaccines for are genuinely life-threatening, so it’s fair to consider these illnesses a bigger risk to health overall.
“But autism rates are higher than they have ever been and that correlates with vaccine use!”
Autism diagnosis is more prevalent in the modern world, but that’s because more is known about the condition and it is better recognised by both medics and the general public.
“Vaccines contain formaldehyde!”
This is a statement that is 100% correct: vaccines can indeed contain formaldehyde, and formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.
However, here’s a brief list of other things that contain formaldehyde: bananas, grapes, plums, apples, carrots, spinach…
Formaldehyde is a naturally-occurring chemical, and in small doses — which is how it’s delivered in vaccines — it’s completely harmless.
“Vaccines don’t really work anyway.”
The response to this is simple: “how many people do you know who’ve contracted polio recently?”
“The only people who advocate vaccines are Big Pharma.”
Big pharma has its problems, but the idea that only big pharma agrees vaccines are a good idea is a myth. Thousands upon thousands of studies have been published proving the efficacy of vaccines, and vaccines are accepted wholeheartedly by millions of independent physicians.
So, in future, if someone cites one of these anti-vax myths to you, you’ll have a good idea about how to respond. Vaccines have been of huge benefit to humanity, and it would be such a shame if we turned our back on science that has literally saved lives.