Unpacking Six Myths about Vaccines

So much mistrust in vaccines stems from misinformation

Dr. Furaha Asani

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Retha Ferguson on Pexels

Healthcare literature tells us that vaccines do a world of good in protecting us against deadly diseases. Yet there are still many people who will avoid vaccinating their children at all costs. As such, conversation surrounding vaccines is currently saturated with myth, mistrust, and increased risk of disease: the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a 300% increase in measles cases in 2017 compared to 2016. The WHO regional director for Europe, Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, stated “Every new person affected by measles in Europe reminds us that unvaccinated children and adults, regardless of where they live, remain at risk of catching the disease and spreading it to others who may not be able to get vaccinated”.

Amongst some of the myths surrounding vaccines are six of the following:

1. ‘All anti-vaccine sentiment stems from the same root’

There are a range of reasons why people choose to oppose to vaccines. It certainly doesn’t help when celebrities, who have large platforms and influence, fan the flames of this anti-vaccine sentiment. However, we need to be cognizant of medical and scientific racism that has sometimes led to justified present-day mistrust in vaccines amongst BIPoC. It is imperative that we delineate the causes of vaccine mistrust in order to appropriately and respectfully engage with people who have received anything but equitable healthcare throughout history.

2. ‘Herd immunity is a myth’ and/or ‘If herd immunity actually exists then why should I have to vaccinate my kids’?

Herd immunity refers to the phenomenon whereby a large proportion of unvaccinated individuals in any given population are protected from developing a disease because a significant number of individuals within that same population have been vaccinated against that same disease. These vaccinated individuals are referred to as ‘vaccinees’.

Herd immunity was already noted over one century ago, and has been consistently evidenced in the healthcare literature. A valid question then is how many individuals need to be vaccinated to…

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Dr. Furaha Asani

Migrant. Postdoctoral researcher. Teacher. Mental Health Advocate. Writer. Professional in the streets, loud on the sheets of paper.