The Pros and Cons of Vaccinations: Risk of Vaccine Side Effects Or The Risk Of Disease
To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate, that is the question. Trying to balance the pros and cons of vaccinating yourself, or a child, can bring on quite the headache. As with all things, knowledge is power, so read on to find out the answers to commonly-asked questions and allay any concerns you may have about vaccines and their side effects.
Do vaccines work?
Put simply, vaccines work. Only decades ago, both children and adults became seriously ill, left with lifelong side effects or died from diseases that we now routinely immunise against.
In 1940, nearly 410,000 people died from measles in the UK. In 2020, there was just one death from this disease. Other diseases such as mumps, smallpox and polio have all but been eradicated by vaccinations programmes that see children immunised from the early months of life.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that while 3.1 million lives are saved annually through vaccinations, a further 1.5 million are lost due to lack of vaccination programmes – an indication of the importance of vaccines and their contribution to global health.
If enough children and adults have been vaccinated against a disease(around 95% of the population), herd immunity can be achieved. Herd immunity protects those, who for whatever reason, can not be immunised against disease.
The NHS claims that vaccination not only works, but it is the single greatest thing you can do to protect yourself and your children from ill health.
Are vaccinations safe?
In recent years, there has been an uptake in vaccine hesitancy. Concerns over lasting side effects have left parents deliberating over the pros and cons of immunising their children. In the same way, trepidation around the COVID vaccine has led to similar discussions in families – with some choosing to avoid vaccination and others taking up the offer.
We understand that there’s so much information out there, it can be overwhelming and hard to discern what’s factual and what’s myth. What we can tell you is that before a vaccine can be recommended for use, it will undergo years of testing within a lab – this can take anything up to 15 years. Vaccines are designed to protect, not harm, so rigorous testing is undertaken before a single dose is put in the human body.
Once a vaccine is in use, it is monitored by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MRHA) for rare side-effects.
While vaccinations are safe, they can come with side effects. But side effects do not mean that the vaccine dose is causing you or your child harm. Side effects, in the main, mean that your body is doing exactly what it should after it’s been immunised against disease.
What are vaccine side effects?
Vaccine side effects are definitely a downside of protecting yourself against disease. But, they’re generally short-lived, with most people experiencing mild side effects for anywhere between one day to a week.
Common side effects in both adults and children are:
- feeling tired
- sore arm
- feeling sick
- a headache
- an achy sensation
- being sick.
Severe reactions to vaccines are rare, affecting only one or two people out of every million.
Signs of an adverse reaction are:
- difficulty breathing
- a rash over your body
- swelling of your face and throat
- dizziness or weakness
- a fast heartbeat.
What should I do if I experience a severe reaction to a vaccination?
Occasionally, people will have an allergic reaction to a vaccine dose. An allergic reaction will generally occur within the minutes or hours of the injection taking place. If you do find yourself experiencing a bad reaction, dial 999 immediately.
Why do we experience vaccine side effects?
There’s no getting away from it, vaccine side effects can be the reason that we delay getting that all important immunisation. A pointy needle and the possibility of feeling pretty rubbish for 24 hours can turn over the tummy of even the toughest cookie!
Because the vaccine introduces the body to a microbial dose( tiny amount) of the disease, your body goes to war to defeat it. This is why you experience mild side effects.
How your body reacts to this tiny shot the germ depends on several factors:
- biological sex
- existing illnesses.
Women, children and older people tend to have a stronger reaction to immunisation, as do those with pre-existing medical conditions. An aged immune system also plays a part, for example: an older person’s immune system will have a memory of pathogens it has met before, but finds it harder to cope with novel immune diseases such as COVID.
So, what are the pros of vaccinations?
As we’ve already said, less than one hundred years ago people were dying from vaccine preventable diseases such as polio and measles.
- Vaccinations work, protecting you and your loved ones from harm for up to a lifetime.
- Bad side effects are rare and mild symptoms last for a couple of days – and many people avoid side effects altogether.
- Vaccinations allow you to live your life without the worry of being impacted by disease – wherever you may be in the world.
So, what about the cons of vaccinations?
- No one wants to be jabbed in the arm – it hurts.
- Some vaccines require more than one dose or top ups – this can be time consuming.
- You can experience mild to moderate symptoms and in very occasional cases, a severe reaction.
Vaccinations aren’t fun BUT they can save your life. If you’ve got a small child with impending immunisations or you’re planning to get away and need protection against traveller diseases, we can help. At the London Vaccination Clinic we’ve probably answered every question possible to ask about vaccinations, and we’re happy to answer them for you too.
If you understand the pros and cons of vaccinations more clearly now, and want to book an appointment or you’re still after that extra bit of advice, give us a call. We offer same-day appointments and will run a thorough diagnostic assessment to ensure you get the right vaccinations.
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