The truth about the MMR Vaccine

MMR Vaccine

There’s been a whole lot of crazy-talk going on about whether the MMR can kill your child. At least, that’s most common excuse I’ve seen as of late for why parents are refusing to give their children the immunization. I’m not the type of person who thinks that children are being abused if they aren’t being vaccinated. I’m not above making relatively irrational decisions about vaccinations myself. In fact, I’m still not quite sure what I think about the HPV vaccine, which prevents against an STD that could cause cancer. I’m of the mindset that my child shouldn’t be having unprotected sex (or any sex for that matter) before they are married, so they don’t need it. Slightly irrational reasoning. I told you.

That being said, I do think parents are utterly misinformed about the MMR and the health risks. Of course there are risks associated with any medication, but the spread of misinformation often blows the risks way out of proportion and creates mass panic which in turn causes problems, like the outbreak of the measles. Here’s the real down-low on the MMR.

About the MMR Vaccine

Myth: Lots of kids die from the MMR shot.

Reality: According to the World Health Organization, 145,700 people died of the measles in 2013. The addition of the Measles immunization reduced the death rate of measles by 75 percent and is estimated to have prevented 15.6 million deaths between 2000 and 2010.  While there are no records of anyone in the United States dying from the measles in the United States during that span, over 145,000 died worldwide. While there are some reports that the MMR killed just over 100 Americans during that same period, the claim is hard to validate. And even if it were true, the odds of dying from the vaccine are significantly below a 1 percent chance.

Myth: The MMR vaccine causes Autism.

Reality: According to the CDC, a 2011 study concluded that the link between autism and ingredients like thimerosal, were not linked to this disease. The study took into account new versions of the vaccine which did not contain thimerosal. When compared to years where the ingredient was used in the vaccines, the autism rates remained constant. There is no evidence to support the theory that immunizations do cause autism. While some experts argue that the vaccines could trigger a latent tendency for an autism spectrum, there is no conclusive evidence to prove or disprove this theory.

The MMR shot reduces the spread of Measles and by doing so, reduces or eliminates deaths caused by measles. While there are risks associated with every medication, the risks are relatively small. As a parent you have to decide which risk is more of a threat. Personally, the numbers themselves speak to me and my children receive vaccinations.

As a mom, I would hope that most parents would seriously consider and research the evidence before making a decision. When large numbers of people stop vaccinating their children it allows mostly latent diseases to start spreading again. If you choose to not vaccinate your children, do your homework first and really understand what you are wagering, including the possibility that other parents may be reluctant to let their children play with your kids. Fear is a damaging emotion that works both ways.


Did you allow your child to get the MMR Vaccine?

Image: iStockPhoto