Six common misconceptions about immunization
"Vaccine-preventable diseases have been virtually eliminated from my country, so there is no need for my child to be vaccinated."
It is true that vaccination has enabled us to reduce most vaccine-preventable diseases to very low levels in many countries. However, some of them are still quite prevalent — even epidemic — in other parts of the world. Travellers can unknowingly bring these diseases into any country, and if the community were not protected by vaccinations, these diseases could quickly spread throughout the population, causing epidemics there.
At the same time, the relatively few cases that a country may currently have could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases without the protection given by vaccines. We should therefore still be vaccinated, for two reasons.
The first is to protect ourselves. Even if we think our chances of getting any of these diseases are small, the diseases still exist and can still infect anyone who is not protected.
The second is to protect those around us. There is a small number of people who cannot be vaccinated (because of severe allergies to vaccine components, for example), and a small percentage of people don't respond to vaccines. These people are susceptible to disease, and their only hope of protection is that people around them are immune and cannot pass disease on to them. A successful vaccination program, like a successful society, depends on the cooperation of every individual to ensure the good of all. We would think it irresponsible of a driver to ignore all traffic regulations on the presumption that other drivers will watch out for him or her. In the same way we shouldn't rely on people around us to stop the spread of disease; we, too, must do what we can.
WHO gratefully acknowledges the permission of CDC Atlanta, to present an edited version of "Six common misconceptions about immunization".