You will often hear anti-vaccination people complain about the dangers of vaccinations. Some still believe the bogus assertion by Andrew Wakefield that Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccinations cause autism, despite this being retracted in 2004 and the results were shown to be false in 20101.
The Australian Department of Health keeps records of adverse events following immunisation of all types in Australia2. These records for 2014 show that there were 13.2 reports of adverse effects for every 100,000 population. Of these adverse effects, 27% (i.e. 3.6 people per 100,000) reported injection site reactions (inflammation, soreness); 18% (i.e. 2.4 per 100,000) reported fever; 16% (2.1 per 100,000) reported a rash; 9% (1.2 per 100,000) reported vomiting; 7% (0.9 per 100,000) reported headache, and 5% (0.7 per 100,000) reported fainting. Of these, only 7% (i.e. 211 people in total) were classified as serious. As you would expect, given this list, the overwhelming reported events were mild and transient. Five deaths were recorded as temporally associated with vaccination (occurring at about the same time), but none of these were causally related to the vaccination. They included a 77 year old male who died of cardiac arrest; a 58 year old male with an infected leg wound who died from myeloencephalitis; a 2 month old female who died 4 days after vaccination, apparently from whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis); a 1 year old male in the final stages of spinal muscular atrophy died 7 days after vaccination; and a 2 month old male died 2 days after immunisation but had a congenital heart disease, as well as post-operative complications2.
I have been fully vaccinated, as have my children, and like some who reported transient effects above, I have had a sore arm, and an itchy injection site from my annual flu vaccinations. Because they are so transient, and expected, I have never bothered to report them, as I expect most others don’t. I have had arguments with anti-vaccination people and to a person they are vague about the harmful effects of vaccinations, and as I say above, some still believe the autism link. I have even seen a teenager blame vaccinations for causing Down’s syndrome3. Their ignorance is profound.
Given the death rate of some of the diseases prevented by vaccinations (e.g. Measles4, Whooping Cough5), a minute risk of an annoying and transient effect is a small price to pay for your children’s and your own immunity. One of the people I argued with, essentially stated that I could get vaccinated if I wanted and that he would not. When I asked about his children, he seemed unconcerned. One of the oddest things he said was that “I don’t need evidence from scientists”. That says much about these anti-vaccination buffoons. Their views are based not on evidence, but on how they feel.
A good analogy for vaccination is as follows: Sometimes car seatbelts can rub smaller children’s necks, so using the logic of the anti-vaxxers, they wouldn’t put the seatbelt on the child in case it chafes their neck. So that child’s neck would remain un-chafed. Then the car is hit by a truck.