ReCAP is a series of interviews with the members of the RBDCOV Community Advisory Panel that will explore the world of community engagement, EU projects and the importance of including people living with immunocompromising conditions in clinical trials.
Let’s dive into the second part of the interview with Siegfried Schwarze!
What are some common misconceptions or myths surrounding vaccines, and how can they be addressed?
There are many misconceptions and myths surrounding the world of vaccines, some of which have persisted for years. Here are some common myths, followed by factual explanations:
Myth: Vaccines cause autism.
Fact:Numerous studies have debunked this myth. The initial paper that suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been retracted and widely discredited. There is no scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism.
Myth: Natural infection is better than vaccination.
Fact: While natural infections can provide immunity, they come with the risk of severe complications, and in some cases, death. Vaccines can provide immunity without causing the disease itself.
Myth: Vaccines contain harmful ingredients.
Fact: Ingredients in vaccines, like adjuvants and preservatives, are used in safe amounts and have been thoroughly tested. They enhance vaccine efficacy and prevent contamination.
Myth: Getting multiple vaccines can overload the immune system.
Fact: Our immune systems handle numerous foreign antigens daily. Vaccines are just a tiny fraction of what our immune systems encounter and manage every day. Even children have the capability to respond to a large number of antigens simultaneously.
Myth: Vaccines can give you the disease they are trying to prevent.
Fact: Most vaccines do not contain live pathogens, so they cannot cause the disease. Vaccines with attenuated (weakened) live viruses (like the MMR vaccine) cannot cause the disease in individuals without prior conditions.
Myth: We do not need vaccines for diseases that are nearly eradicated
Fact: If we stop vaccination, even small case numbers can lead to large outbreaks, since the diseases have not disappeared completely. Continued vaccination ensures diseases do not make a comeback.
Myth: Vaccine side effects are worse than the disease itself.
Fact: Side effects of vaccines are typically mild, like a sore arm or a low fever, and temporary.
Myth: “Healthy” people do not need vaccines.
Fact: You cannot predict the course of an infection. Even a person who seems to be “healthy” can have a severe outcome. Vaccines protect individuals from potential future infections, and by achieving herd immunity, they also protect those around them who might be more vulnerable to infections.
What can we do to address these myths?
It is crucial to approach vaccine hesitancy with understanding and empathy, providing clear, fact-based information to help individuals make informed decisions.
How can raising awareness and addressing vaccine hesitancy among the general population contribute to fostering a more inclusive and resilient society?
Addressing vaccine hesitancy and raising awareness among the general population has far-reaching implications for building a more inclusive and resilient society. Here is how:
In conclusion, promoting vaccine awareness and combating hesitancy is not just about individual protection—it is a collective effort towards building a society that is better equipped to deal with health challenges, that values science and knowledge, and that emphasises the protection and inclusion of all its members. Such a society is inherently more adaptable, cohesive, and resilient in the face of diverse challenges.
Disclaimer: This activity was developed under the RBDCOV Project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101046118.
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