Remembering Good Vaccines

November 14, 2012

We may be getting a little vaccine crazy, and many of them may offer only limited protection, but many vaccines are actually invaluable, and wildly successful. Take the polio vaccine: this year, reports show we’re even closer to eradicating it the world over.

We have even fewer cases this year than last (down to below 200), and no new cases in countries where it’s already been eradicated.

Where does polio remain? In Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan—places where the vaccine is superstitiously fought against.

While there are many good reasons some vaccines are “iffy”, the fact that polio still affects people is a reminder to think critically. Although it’s easier to just pick a side, few things are black and white, and vaccinations are one of them, whether you’re blindly accepting the hundreds being pushed through testing right now, or blindly rejecting the good with the bad.

The polio vaccine and others that have been around forever are generally worth the possible side-effects (usually just fever and mild irritation). Newer ones have had more side-effects, like the flu vaccine, they also don’t have the same long-term efficacy, because the pathogen mutates (as with flu) or because the pathogen is overly prevalent (HPV).

Bottom line, each vaccine is unique, and choosing which are worthwhile might take a little effort, but is worth the rewards (and avoiding the pitfalls).

Where do you stand on vaccines? Which do you think are worth it, and which do you skip?

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