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Vaccines: The Truth Behind Myths and Misconceptions

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Shienna Santelices · Updated Jun 03, 2021

Vaccines: The Truth Behind Myths and Misconceptions

Despite the effectiveness of vaccines, anti-vaccine myths still abound. 

Vaccines are substances that are used to protect our bodies from acquiring bacteria and viruses that can bring severe illnesses to our body. Containing ingredients from part of the bacteria and viruses that caused the diseases, they help the immune system to produce antibodies that will destroy harmful bacteria and viruses once they enter the body.

Taking a shot of a vaccine helps in killing or weakening the disease in your body, preventing you from being sick. It will also help the immune system to recognize and remember viruses and bacteria, resulting in immunization. Thus, once harmful organisms enter the body, our immune system will automatically fight them.

How Do Vaccines Work?

Anti-Vaccine Myths and Misconceptions vs. Facts

Vaccines help the body from having diseases, but many people have fears and hesitation due to personal concerns with their efficacy and safety. What adds to this are dubious websites and sources that relay various myths and misconceptions on how vaccines work.

Here are some of anti-vaccine myths and the corresponding explanations that will debunk each myth:

MYTH #1: Vaccines are linked to autism

This misconception arose in the late ’90s, when many criticized medical communities with the allegation that vaccines are connected with autism.

Scientists in different countries immediately ran tests, yielding the same conclusion that vaccines and autism are not correlated with each other.

One of these studies was conducted in Denmark in 2002, involving 500,000 children.

MYTH #2: Too many vaccines at once overwhelm the immune system of infants

Another anti-vaccine misconception is that a series of immunizations can do more harm than good.

The number of vaccines increased from the 1980s until the early 2000s, from a maximum of two vaccines to twenty vaccines given to children until two years old. The truth is, infants are capable of receiving vaccines and handling immunological challenges.

The diseases from the natural environment of infants are more infectious if there are no vaccines. Delaying the schedule of vaccines increases the risk of getting life-threatening diseases.


MYTH #3: It is better to have the disease than to be immune to vaccines

Many people with no vaccinations get hospitalized due to different complications, such as influenza. This includes 20,000 children, and 36,000 people who died from the same illness without vaccination. This disease is preventable through vaccine immunization, as it stimulates antibodies that will fight the flu and lessen the risks of potential complications. This is an anti-vaccine myth that’s been debunked. 

MYTH #4: Vaccines cause diseases they are supposed to prevent

It is a fact that vaccines contain the bacteria that they are supposed to prevent. However, these bacteria are no longer able to develop in the body and cause severe symptoms and diseases. Some vaccines have a few living organisms that may cause mild symptoms that will pass in a few days, but these are not harmful and life-threatening. Instead, that is one of the signs that the vaccine works.

MYTH #5: Vaccines are not safe

Another anti-vaccine myth is that vaccines are not safe because they contain toxic substances.

All of the vaccines released in communities are safe and undergo strict reviews. Even after the release of these vaccines, the reviews continue to monitor potential risks and complications. The entire process includes three phases of clinical testing before approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), licensure approval, and continuous monitoring that usually takes at least ten years and even more.

Moreover, vaccines do not contain harmful levels of substances. Mercury, aluminum, and formaldehyde are some of the substances included in the vaccine. But these can enhance the vaccine’s efficacy and safety.

MYTH #6: Vaccines are only for kids

An anti-vaccine myth claims that only children need vaccination.

Even teens and adults can receive vaccination shots, as the immunity from the first dose gradually wears off. The second dose serves as the booster that brings back the immunity level. These booster doses are scheduled at every stage. Some vaccines, like flu vaccines, are needed by children and adults every year to keep them protected from viruses.


MYTH #7: Safety and health protocols are unnecessary after receiving a vaccine

The Department of Health (DOH) and John Hopkins Medicine said that following health protocols can still protect people even after receiving vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccine, for example, takes around 14 days before the antibodies develop, which will fight the virus.

MYTH #8: The vaccine causes infertility in women

There are official reports that say that COVID-19 vaccines are causing infertility. Yet, a professor at Yale University refuted this anti-vaccine myth, noting that women can still get pregnant even after receiving the vaccine. The vaccine will also help in protecting the mother and baby from the virus through the antibodies.

MYTH #9: People with a history of allergies are not capable of receiving a vaccine

The Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology clarified that people who have allergic reactions can get vaccinated for COVID-19. They also stated that allergy history has no relation to vaccines.

However, if an allergic reaction happens after the first dose, recipients will no longer be given a second one. 

Vaccination Checklist for Kids: A Parent’s Guide

Key Takeaways

People get vaccines to develop their immune systems and help produce antibodies that will destroy bacteria and viruses entering the body. However, different myths and misconceptions from anti-vaccine advocates have arisen for the release of multiple vaccines.

Scientists and doctors continue to debunk these myths and encourage people to receive vaccines as early as possible.

Learn more about Child Health and Vaccines here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Shienna Santelices · Updated Jun 03, 2021

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