Vaccine myths debunked

Vaccinations are not protective at all or only poorly

A popular argument of the vaccination critics is that vaccinations actually do not protect or only poorly against diseases. Sometimes, it is referred to studies (for example, the KiGGS study), whose numbers supposedly prove this ineffectiveness. However, the results are shortened or displayed inaccurately. Although the KiGGS study shows that not all children are protected by MMR vaccines, its main result is that the rate of protection is much higher than in unvaccinated children. The authors of the study therefore also come to the conclusion that the vaccination makes sense. Critics also cite news reports in which vaccinated people have become infected with the corresponding disease. Unfortunately, vaccinations are not perfect, but as explained above, the likelihood of an infection is much higher without them. But nobody will report about vaccinated people who do not catch a disease. The point that vaccines are not tested by comparative studies on humans is correct but nevertheless falls short of the mark. Such comparative studies are simply not feasible, as one would need to contaminate people with pathogens in order to investigate the efficacy of vaccinations. Today, we vaccinate against a number of serious diseases that can lead to permanent damage or even death. Hence, such studies would just be inhumane. Nevertheless, vaccines are extensively tested beforehand, e.g. through animal experiments, to ensure that it is effective and to detect unwanted side effects. In addition, we already have extensive practical experience with the most important vaccines.

Vaccinations trigger the diseases they are supposed to prevent

There are several types of vaccines: the attenuated vaccines and the inactive vaccines. In the inactive vaccines only killed pathogens are included, and thus they cannot cause diseases. The attenuated vaccines, e.g. measles vaccine, consist of attenuated living pathogens. This means that the immune system has to ward it off and they can actually trigger a weakened form of the disease. In measles, this happens in 5% of vaccinated people who get a rash and fever. However, only very isolated cases are known in which measles with worse symptoms have actually been triggered. Most of these cases were vaccinated, but there was an undiscovered previous illness, such as a weakening of the immune system. Thus, the risk caused by missing vaccinations is many times higher. The living polio vaccine actually used to cause some infections every year. Therefore, it is no longer used and only the injection of the dead vaccine is recommended today.

Vaccinations contain dangerous additives

Some vaccines may contain formaldehyde, aluminum, phenol or mercury. However, their concentrations are well below the toxicological limit values and therefore they are not harmful to the human body. These additives serve to kill the vaccine viruses, enhance the immune response or as a preservative. Thus, they contribute to the success of vaccinations without posing a threat. Especially mercury as an additive was criticized strongly. Although no harmful influence on patients has ever been demonstrated, manufacturers have responded and now offer mercury-free alternatives to nearly all recommended vaccines. Vaccinations cause vaccine injuries, those are disguised. Probably the most popular argument of critics of vaccinations is that vaccinations have a lot of serious side effects (such as autism). It is argued that their occurrence is cover up and they are actually very common. Such vaccine injuries are reactions beyond the usual extent of a vaccine response. Common reactions are e.g. redness, small swelling or a general feeling of weakness. In fact, vaccine damage has been consistently monitored in Germany since 2001. If unusual reactions occur after vaccinations, the vaccinating physician is legally obliged to report this. Such reports are then thoroughly examined by the Paul-Ehrlich-Institute to determine if and to which extent a vaccine injury exists. Furthermore, affected consumers themselves can report such vaccine injuries to the PEI online. The results are regularly published online and show only a minimal number of serious vaccine injuries. The risk of vaccine injuries is so small that the dangers that arise without vaccinations outweigh them by far!

Vaccinations cause autism

The former British doctor Andrew Wakefield published a study in 1998 of just 12 (!) children in which he suggested that the mumps-measles-rubella vaccine could lead to autism in children. This received a huge coverage by the media and led to decreasing vaccination rates in the UK and other countries. Even today, this is one of the most popular objections to vaccinations. However, afterwards the results of the study were refuted many times, e.g. by European and Japanese researchers. They, for example, investigated the influence of the ceased usage of the MMR vaccine in Japan starting 1993 on the spread of autism and found no connection. It turned out that the original study was of inferior quality and, in particular, Wakefield had concealed a major conflict of interest. He took money from parents' lawyers whose children were suffering from autism and who wanted to sue the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that Wakefield had patents on a competing product of the MMR vaccine. Thus he directly benefited economically from his results and was not a neutral scientist. As a result, ten of the study's thirteen authors withdrew their participation in 2004, and in 2010, following a detailed investigation, Wakefield was struck off the UK medical register for unethical behavior, misconduct, and fraud.

A natural immunity through infection is superior

It is often argued by vaccine critics that natural immunity to disease is better. Especially mothers who have had a disease could pass on stronger protection to their newborn (the so-called nest protection). Therefore, a widespread vaccination was not desirable. In fact, it is true that a natural immunity, i.e. acquired by infection, is usually stronger and the nest protection of babies is stronger if their mother went through a natural infection. However, such immunity requires that you were previously infected with the appropriate disease! A weakened nest protection can be compensated by early vaccinations and this would be no longer necessary after an eradication of the disease. Today, we vaccinate against a number of serious diseases that can all lead to serious harm or death. To recommend natural immunity to someone is to advise them to infect themselves or their children with such a disease and to take the risk of serious and lasting damage. To protect against infectious diseases, hygiene and vaccinations are still the best way!

Eradication of diseases is ill-advised and not feasible

It is also said, that in the event of a possible outbreak of an eradicated disease, we would be vulnerable to it without natural immunity. This may be true at first glance, but for this reason, vaccines are kept in stock to counteract such an outbreak. If in return, you are not working towards extermination, that means accepting that a large number of people are infected with dangerous diseases! It is sometimes argued that the recommendations for vaccinations are significantly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. The recommendations would therefore only serve their economic interests. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry would earn much more from the needed drugs for infected patients than from vaccines. In 2016, Germany health insurances paid 1.34 billion euros for vaccinations and 36.27 billion euros for drugs in the same period. This makes vaccinations a much less attractive business for the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, the production of vaccines is usually more expensive than of other drugs. This also is a reason why the number of vaccine manufacturers worldwide is decreasing. Overall, it can be said that vaccinations decrease the cost of the healthcare system by preventing expensive treatments. Thus they do not solely serve the economic interests of the pharmaceutical industry.

Diseases are wrongly attributed to bacteria/viruses

As early as 1876 Robert Koch was the first to prove a microorganism as the cause of anthrax. In addition, for all diseases, that we vaccinated against today, bacteria or viruses could be proven as triggers beyond doubt. This knowledge led to the development of the substances in the vaccines. These bacteria and viruses can actually be observed today with light or electron microscopes. Thus, in modern science, there is no doubt about the causality of bacteria and viruses for infectious diseases.




  4. T Jefferson: Unintended events following immunization with MMR: a systematic review. In: Vaccine. 2003 Sep 8;21(25-26), S. 3954–60

  5. H Honda, Y Shimizu, M Rutter: No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study. In: J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 2005 Jun, 46(6), S. 572–579

  6. Dies argumentieren z.B. auch die Autoren der KiGGS Studie