In 1776, General George Washington instituted a highly controversial policy that affected all new recruits enlisting to fight the British during the American Revolution. Smallpox was spreading among the vulnerable colonial troops and threatened their ability to fight the troops of the British Empire. General Washington made it mandatory that all new troops were to be immediately inoculated against the potentially deadly virus using now outdated vaccination technique. It worked. General Washington’s troops were able to fend off the disease and fight their way to victory.
Fast forward to the present and we still see vaccinations successfully being used to defend ourselves from potentially debilitating and deadly diseases and ailments. While we don’t have to worry about the likes of Smallpox anymore, there are still some viruses and bacteria around that can do considerable harm. Diseases such as hepatitis B, measles, pertussis (also known as whooping cough) and chickenpox are all protected against with modern vaccinations. However, there has been some recent controversy centered around whether or not vaccinations are safe to give to our children.
What is a vaccine?
First of all, let’s quickly discuss exactly what a vaccination is. A vaccine is “a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.”
Vaccines are made from materials and substances that have been rigorously tested and approved by not only the FDA, but also the medical community as a whole. Vaccinations are performed everyday and protect millions of Americans from illnesses that could otherwise be deadly. As with any medication, vaccines do carry a risk, albeit a very small risk. Your physician will ask you questions about your or your child’s health history before administering vaccinations to as to make sure they are as safe as possible.
Are vaccinations safe?
Now, let’s cover what vaccinations are not. Popular media and some news sources have recently taken center stage with their message that vaccinations are dangerous, poisonous, and possibly deadly. Some have even attributed the occurrence of autism to vaccinations. While vaccinations do carry a very slight risk of producing specific side-effects in a small percentage of people, there is no documented evidence of vaccinations causing autism. In fact, the vast majority of the current population of the United States has received a vaccination at one time or another in time and have lead perfectly normal and healthy lives. Vaccines are tested for years before they are approved for use. No vaccination that is unsafe or ineffective will pass the rigorous testing of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or the Food and Drug Administration.
Where can you get the facts?
While it can seem to be overwhelming to wade through the massive amount of conflicting information that is found online, there is one place where you can find reliable information regarding the safety of vaccinations – your physician. When it comes to getting the facts, and getting them straight, your physician is your best resource for the most accurate information about vaccinations.
Modern physicians go through years and years of medical training and schooling and receive the latest information about modern medicine. They also continuously receive ongoing training to keep them updated with the most current information concerning vaccinations. In short, your physician will be your best source of vaccination related info.
Just imagine how much faster the American Revolution would have been won if General George Washington’s troops had access to the modern vaccinations we enjoy today. Vaccinations have been around for centuries and they work. Our country is living proof of that.