Filtering Fact from Fiction: Navigating Vaccine Misinformation

June 22, 2022


With so much information on the internet and various social media sites, and amid unprecedented political division, it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction – especially regarding vaccines. You might feel frustrated navigating the constantly changing information that seems to come at us from multiple sources 24/7. You might be asking yourself: What are the risks vs. benefits of vaccines? What is the best way to keep my family safe and healthy? What information should I believe? We’re here to help untangle the truth from fiction and address some common vaccine concerns.

I’ve heard vaccines are unsafe.

Misinformation, or information that is inaccurate and meant to deceive, is common – especially on social media. The overarching theme of vaccine misinformation is that vaccines are unsafe. The truth is that vaccines are rigorously and constantly tested and monitored to make sure they are safe and offer the best protection against disease. The risks of contracting a vaccine-preventable disease are much greater than those posed by vaccines. Any medicine can cause reactions, but serious vaccine side effects are very rare.

And vaccines save lives! In fact, 4 to 5 million lives are saved worldwide each year by vaccines. While no vaccine is 100% effective, not getting vaccinated against infectious diseases puts you, your family, your loved ones, and the greater community at serious risk.

I’ve heard vaccines are a purely personal choice.

It’s a fact that vaccine-preventable diseases can spread in under-vaccinated areas. While it seems there are a lot of vaccine narratives circulating that focus on personal choice, the choices we make – especially the choice to vaccinate – impact everyone we encounter. Healthy communities don’t happen on an individual level. It’s up to all of us to ensure our entire Colorado community and beyond thrives!

I’m hearing a lot of changing vaccine recommendations.

While it may seem suspicious that vaccine recommendations change frequently, this is simply the result of continuous research and new scientific discoveries. For instance, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, (ACIP) reviews the routine adult and childhood vaccination schedules annually, and their vaccine recommendations can sometimes change based on new data and information. But no matter what, safety is always the top priority!

This process of continuous data collection and review has led to many advancements that have made our families and communities safer. Aren’t you glad we’ve moved on from the days when people thought smoking was safe? And aren’t you glad we now have safety devices like seatbelts and car seats for infants and toddlers? These advances are the result of decades of research and new scientific discoveries that have helped us lead safer, healthier lives. The same can be said for vaccines!

I’m hearing recommendations from a lot of different sources.

Your healthcare provider is the best person to answer your questions about vaccines. Discuss any concerns you have with them. They’re the experts! You can also get answers to your questions from reliable and trusted sources like the CDC, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), or Vaccinate Your Family.

What Vaccines Are Recommended?

Routine vaccinations for children should occur at 2, 4, 6, 12, and 18 months then again at 4-6 years. Adolescents should receive the HPV (human papillomavirus – a leading cause of cancer) vaccination along with other routine boosters and immunizations. Adults should get a Tdap booster every 10 years and get vaccinated for shingles at age 50 (sooner for those with immunocompromising conditions). All ages across the lifespan should get an annual flu shot.

Ultimately, the best way to ensure you and your loved ones stay healthy is to make sure you are all vaccinated – not just for COVID-19, but for other infectious diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), measles, mumps, and rubella. Don’t let misinformation about vaccines derail your desire to protect your family and loved ones. For information on where you can locate a vaccine provider, find information about free or low-cost vaccine clinics, or learn about other ways to get vaccinated visit our website. Follow along with us on Facebook as we break down a new vaccine myth every Monday.

Immunize Colorado was formed in 1991 in response to alarmingly low vaccination rates across the state. At the time, only about 50% of Colorado’s children were adequately vaccinated. A group of physicians and other concerned individuals came together to strategize how to best protect Coloradans from vaccine-preventable diseases. Much work remains. You can donate or discover other ways to get involved to support our commitment to healthy Colorado communities today!

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