Questions and answers on immunization and vaccine safety
Online Q we, too, must do what we can.
5. Can a child be given more than one vaccine at a time?
Scientific evidence shows that giving several vaccines at the same time has no negative effect on a childвЂ™s immune system. Children are exposed to several hundred foreign substances that trigger an immune response every day. The simple act of eating food introduces new antigens into the body, and numerous bacteria live in the mouth and nose. A child is exposed to far more antigens from a common cold or sore throat than they are from vaccines.
The key advantage of having several vaccines at once is fewer clinic visits, which saves time and money. Also, when a combined vaccination is possible (e.g. for measles, mumps and rubella), that will result in fewer injections and reduces discomfort for the child. A number of steps can also be taken to minimise the pain of the multiple injections.
6. Do I need to be protected against influenza through vaccination?
Influenza is a serious disease that kills between 300 000 to 500 000 people worldwide every year. Pregnant women, small children, elderly people with poor health and anyone with a chronic condition, like asthma or heart disease, are at higher risk for severe infection and death. Vaccinating pregnant women has the added benefit of protecting their newborns (there is currently no vaccine for babies under 6 months).
Seasonal influenza vaccines offer immunity to the 3 most prevalent strains circulating in any given season. It is the best way to reduce your chances of severe flu and of spreading it to others. Avoiding the flu means avoiding extra medical care costs and lost income from missing days of work or school.
7. What preservatives are used in vaccines?
Thiomersal is an organic, mercury-containing compound added to some vaccines as a preservative. It is safe and the most widely-used preservative for vaccines that are provided in multi-dose vaccine vials. There is no evidence to suggest that the amount of thiomersal used in vaccines poses a health risk.
8. What about vaccines and autism?
The 1998 study which raised concerns about a possible link between measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism was later found to be seriously flawed and fraudulent. The paper was subsequently retracted by the journal that published it. Unfortunately, its publication set off a panic that led to dropping immunization rates, and subsequent outbreaks of these diseases. There is no evidence of a link between MMR vaccine and autism or autistic disorders.