There's tons of misinformation about vaccines, aka the reason we no longer live in a world where half of our babies won't live to see age 12. Let's review.
Vaccines used to be pretty uncontroversial.
People saw the devastation of diseases like polio, smallpox, and tetanus. To the earliest people to get vaccinated, vaccines were miraculous. Child mortality dropped. General health improved. As more and more people got vaccinated, some diseases disappeared from the developed world.
So what happened?
Why did people begin to fear medicines that they once regarded as saviors? The truth is, there's lots of misinformation out there and lots of conflicts of interest on all sides. It's hard to know what the facts are.
Maki Naro put together this comic to address people's ongoing concerns. One of the most shocking panels describes how Dr. Andrew Wakefield (even if you haven't heard of him, you've probably heard of his work — he wrote an article, later retracted, that tied the MMR vaccine to autism and started that whole panic) paid for blood samples at his kid's birthday party. And it just gets shadier from there.
It's important that everyone who can get their vaccines does.
So help out our collective immunity by passing this to a friend, OK?
Fact Check Time!
How prevalent are severely adverse vaccine reactions? While most of them are, in fact, about 1 in a million, the CDC notes that the actual rates vary from 1 in 100 (adenovirus) to 1 in 20k or 100k (rotavirus) to 1 in 55k or 250k (yellow fever). However, those vaccines aren't part of the generally recommended vaccine schedule.
That formaldehyde part sounds crazy, right? Does my body actually make that stuff? Turns out, yes. From FDA: "The body continuously processes formaldehyde, both from what it makes on its own and from what it has been exposed to in the environment. ... Studies have shown that for a newborn of average weight of 6 - 8 pounds, the amount of formaldehyde in their body is 50-70 times higher than the upper amount that they could receive from a single dose of a vaccine or from vaccines administered over time."
The panel about mercury has raised a number of questions. Didn't your chemistry teacher tell you that it's an element, so there's just the one kind? In this context, we're talking about two different molecules that contain mercury, and mercury's traits change when it's in a molecular compound. The FDA has a more in-depth explanation of the research on these compounds.