'Tis the season for vaccines, which have been in the news a lot lately.
A Centers for Disease Control panel recently recommended the HPV vaccine for boys and young men, and researchers are a giant step closer to developing a "malaria" vaccine. Vaccines can be very important to our health, but there are many questions and myths surrounding them. Many people believe vaccines will give them the very diseases they are trying to avoid, like the measles or flu.
“It’s just not true,” said Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md. “The way the vaccines are made in general is that they are either the ‘killed’ part or pieces of the virus or bacteria, something like the envelope of the disease, the wrapping. So you can’t actually get the disease from just a part of it.”
But what about people who swear flu shots make them achy and tired?
“That’s your immune system working,” she said. “You’re actually feeling your immune system revving up, and that’s a good sign that the vaccine is working, but it’s not the flat out flu.”
Some parents think it is premature to give their kids the controversial HPV vaccine, insisting it’s better to wait. Dr. Jackie disagrees.
“All vaccines stick better when they are given to young children. A younger immune system responds better to any vaccine,” she said.
As for the traditional childhood vaccines, there’s been speculation that they may cause autism and mental retardation.
“That one is just completely false,” according to Dr. Jackie. “There just isn’t the science to prove that,” she said.
And can you be allergic to a vaccine?
“That used to be sort of true,” she said. “Some vaccines are made from the chicken embryo, which makes them dangerous for people with egg allergies. So it’s probably worthwhile to get to an allergist’s office so you can be watched.”
There are also people who suffer reactions like redness and swelling.
“Again, that’s just the vaccine working,” she said. “What you’ll want to do is take something like ibuprofen to help with the pain in the arm.”
Now, for the total skeptics who think vaccines just don’t work at all. Dr. Jackie says
“There’s no silver bullet,” Dr. Jackie said. “Even drugs like antibiotics will sometimes only work in 20 percent of the cases. But vaccines are better than the disease.”