Have you received your flu vaccine this year? You may have decided not to take it; either because you did not want to pay for it or you are doubtful it works. You probably have friends who do not take shots for the same reasons. You may even know people who purposely avoid them out of wariness of the government or the medical community.
Now, some misconceptions regarding vaccines may be valid, but in many cases, they have been exaggerated and misrepresented. For one, the belief that if you do not get sick after a vaccine, it means it did not work. You usually do not get sick due because of the vaccine. Even if you did not get the vaccine yourself, the fact that most people around you did mean that the disease has decreased its chances to spread around.
Another belief that may be wrongly held is the attitude that the government or the medical community purposely weakens or does not make enough vaccines. Remember that both institutions stand to lose more if they were remiss in their duties to protect the public. Even if there are not enough vaccines in your area for you or your family, the important thing is that it does get distributed around your community.
A common misconception regarding vaccines is that it actually infects the recipient with the disease it is supposed to protect you against. There are certain vaccines that are purposefully made that way, but not all vaccines are. Most of them have dead cells or segments taken from the bacteria or virus rather than the live form of the disease. Whatever form it takes, the body has to react to them and produce the corresponding antibodies.
It should be clear that children and senior citizens gain the most from vaccines. This is not necessarily because they are more susceptible to disease. Rather, it is because they are more likely to infect their families who are more vulnerable due to their close contact. They may have individual predispositions as well, so make sure to get medical advice on which vaccines to take.
Vaccines, like potable water and clean toilets, are just one of many ubiquitous luxuries that people take for granted in the developed world, but are essential to health and safety. The sad truth is, they are not easily accessible in all parts of the world and many diseases you may have presumed were eliminated still thrive elsewhere. So it is important to protect yourself with vaccines if they are available to you.