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Four immunization myths busted

Some people are wary of immunizations due to the many vaccine myths circulating the country. These people run the risk of catching and spreading diseases like measles. The good news is these myths are just that: myths.

Here are the most common myths about immunizations and the facts to bust them:

Myth #1: Adults don’t need to get vaccinated.

Have you heard you need to get vaccines only as a child? People of all ages are encouraged by physicians to receive vaccines. Age is a factor only in determining what type of vaccinations you need. Check out the CDC’s Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule (PDF).

Children typically receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine twice when they are young. If you are an adult and have not received the vaccine, you should contact your doctor immediately to see if it is recommended for you.

Myth #2: Vaccine-preventable diseases have been eliminated from the U.S., so I don’t need to get vaccinated.

The diseases that vaccines work to prevent are serious and still around. The percentage of people who are vaccinated is much higher in the U.S. than in other countries. However, there is a risk that individuals traveling to and from other countries may carry a disease back to the U.S.

In January 2015, an outbreak of measles started at Disneyland and affected more than 100 children in 14 states. Experts believe an international traveler brought the disease to the U.S. Another outbreak in North Carolina originated with someone who traveled to multiple locations across Europe. These are great examples of why you shouldn’t avoid getting vaccinated simply because you live in the U.S.

Myth #3: Everyone I know is vaccinated, so I won’t catch it.

If everyone thought like this, no one would be protected from disease. Most doctors recommend getting vaccinated to decrease the likelihood of contracting diseases. Placing your health in the hands of anyone other than a doctor can be dangerous, so remember to protect yourself by scheduling an appointment to find out which immunizations you need.

When you get vaccinated, you are also protecting those who are not eligible for certain vaccines – such as infants, pregnant women or immunocompromised individuals – from contracting diseases. This is known as “community immunity.”

Myth #4: The MMR vaccine causes autism.

Many people have been led to believe that there is a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines and autism. The Institute of Medicine and the CDC reported there is no scientific proof that vaccines can cause autism.

Myths and false reports cause panic and prevent people from properly weighing the benefits and risks of vaccines. The risks associated with vaccines are far less than the risks associated with actually contracting a disease. The bottom line is to stay focused on prevention.

Beyond the myths

Consult with your family doctor or health care provider to make sure you are up to date on all the vaccines recommended for your age group.

For more information on immunizations visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site. Also, review the immunization schedule for children and adults.

Larry Wu, MD
Larry Wu, MD

Regional Medical Director

Larry is a regional medical director for Blue Cross NC providing consultative services for employee health solutions, prevention, chronic disease, care management, medical expense and utilization management. He's a family physician with over 20 years in clinical practice, has served as clinic director in the Indian Health Service, Kaiser Permanente and Duke Family Medicine and currently maintains a part-time clinical practice.

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