Common Worries Around Vaccines: Are They Safe?

19th March 2021

There are currently vaccines for 24 infectious diseases, some of which you may have been given as a young child and/or during your teenage years. Others are offered to you later on in life, due to age, your travelling plans, or during a pandemic such as with the COVID-19 vaccines.

With the new and readily available vaccines for coronavirus being rolled out across the UK and the world, it has been made clear that there is a widespread lack of confidence when it comes to the safety of immunisation and vaccine jabs. Whilst each of us are our own best advocates for our health, we need to take the advice of medical professionals and scientists across the world into consideration, before making important health decisions.

With so much information on the internet, on social media, and being spread through word of mouth (some of it being scaremongering and incorrect), it can be difficult to know what exactly to believe.

We have answered some of your common questions about the safety of vaccines, so you can make a more informed decision when it comes to having a flu vaccine, the coronavirus vaccine, or any other vaccine you may be offered.

Do vaccines work?

Vaccines are heroic in protecting the population from mass disease. Immunisation through vaccines prevents millions of deaths every year, from diseases like measles, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and influenza (flu). We can see that vaccines work well in minimising and even eradicating diseases by looking at both historic and current data.

In the 20th century alone, over 300 million people died from smallpox, which is a disease that has now been declared completely eradicated due to its vaccine roll out in 1796. Cases of polio, an infectious virus that infects a person’s spinal cord and causes paralysis, has decreased by over 99% since 1988 due to worldwide vaccination.

Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, major epidemics occurred every 2 to 3 years, and caused around 2.6 million deaths each year. This disease has now been reduced by 99.9% since the vaccine was introduced. Between 2000 and 2019 alone, the measles vaccination has prevented an estimated 23.2 million deaths; a number which would be even greater with widespread immunisation, however, there are some parents who do not want their child to receive the vaccination.

We can see already that the COVID 19 vaccines are working following the rollout due to the decrease in people contracting the virus, but also people requiring hospitalization, and dying from the disease.

Yes, vaccines do work.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by priming your immune system against future contact with certain diseases by injecting a killed, inactivated, weakened or partial version of the pathogen. When you receive a vaccine, you stimulate the bodies immune system that recognises the agent as foreign, and creates antibodies to destroy it. The immune system has a ‘memory’, that allows the body to more easily recognise the disease if it encounters the pathogen in the future.

Can vaccines give you the disease that it is supposed to prevent?

Vaccines contain partial, inactivated, dead or weakened versions of the pathogen, which are not strong or plentiful enough to make you ill, but enough for your body to create the antibodies to fight it. This process allows your immune system to recognise the disease if the live pathogen enters your body in the future.

It is not possible to become ill with the disease from a vaccine.

Are vaccines safe, and are vaccines tested enough before offered to the public?

All vaccines rolled out to the public are thoroughly trialled and tested to make sure they do not cause harm. It can often take years for a vaccine to make it through each stage of a trail in order for it to pass.

There are some cases, such as with the coronavirus, where the vaccine is elevated to be developed, tested and approved at a quicker rate. This has raised various concerns about the vaccination process being ‘rushed’. Many researchers across the world working on other vaccine programmes and other clinical trials refocused their time and efforts to work exclusively on the COVID 19 vaccine, due to its urgent clinic need for the current pandemic. This doesn’t mean that the shortened time frame was at the expense of safety or quality; it has been tested rigorously and effectively, and in line with the clinical trail’s requirements.

What are the short term side effects of the vaccines?

Side effects of vaccinations, if any, are usually very mild and are much less dangerous than the effects of the disease being vaccinated against.

The most common side effect of a vaccination is a sore arm for a couple of days, but others may feel a bit unwell or develop a high temperature for 1 or 2 days. Some people also report suffering from a headache, or feeling fatigued.

The potential effects of the approved coronavirus vaccines and the flu vaccine jab are incomparable to the short and long term effects of catching and becoming ill with the diseases.

In very rare cases, people may develop an allergic reaction to a vaccine. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes of receiving the vaccine. The medical professional administering the vaccine will be trained to deal with these reactions and be able to treat the individual immediately.

What are the long term side effects of the vaccines?

Many people are worried about long term side effects of vaccines. The approval of the vaccine by health organisations assure us that the vaccine is safe and highly unlikely to cause any long term side effects at all. What does cause long term side effects however, is developing the disease itself if you are not vaccinated.

The coronavirus for example, although data on the long term risks is still being collected, some complications we know include:

  • Inflammation of the heart muscles
  • Lung damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Hair loss
  • Long term loss of taste and smell
  • Concentration problems
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression, anxiety and mood changes

Do I still need the annual flu vaccine if I have had the coronavirus vaccine?

The pathogens in the flu vaccine are different from the pathogens in the coronavirus vaccine, so getting one or the other will not protect you from both illnesses.

It is actually more important than ever to get the flu vaccine. It is possible to catch both illnesses at the same time, and the effects on an individual can be severe. Also, a significant flu outbreak on top of the pandemic would overwhelm hospitals and take a toll on healthcare workers.

The symptoms of the flu itself are generally unpleasant, but it can cause more serious complications in vulnerable groups, and the result can even be fatal.

Can vaccines cause autism?

No, vaccines do not cause autism.

This may be a common misconception around vaccines; there have been numerous studies carried out to try and find a link between autism and vaccinations, all of which have shown 0 evidence. The journal that originally published this statement eventually retracted it. It was declared that the information was not only based on bad science, but deliberate fraud and falsification by head researchers, whom were revoked of their medical licenses.

Flu vaccinations with DBOCC Health

We offer a corporate flu vaccination service that will ensure that you and your employees are vaccinated safely and professionally at your own place of work. If you would like to learn more about our flu vaccination service, or get a free, no-obligation quote on how much it costs for our flu vaccination service, please get in touch.

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