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Autism to illness: Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked

With Covid-19 affecting thousands of people on a daily basis, the second wave seems to be more challenging than the first.

While several Indians have been eager to line up and do their part at slowing and hopefully ending the pandemic, there are others who are still reluctant.

Myths and false stories about the vaccine are spreading on Facebook and Whatsapp groups, preventing people from getting the vaccine. Since the disease is new, people readily believe in every piece of information floating around them. The major reason behind the strong sense of reluctance is the lack of awareness amongst the general public.

Among the several myths making the rounds, one of the most commonly shared are claims that “Vaccines make people ill”. Doctors around the world have claimed that vaccines don’t give any illness. However, people might experience mild to moderate fever, headache, or soreness which are signs that the body is building protection against the virus.

There is also the fear that "Vaccines can cause autism." A fear which first originated in 1997 with a study report published in the medical journal, Lancet. The paper by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield was later retracted due to undisclosed conflict of interest and ethical violations. Since then, no study has found any link between vaccines and autism. According to Alycia Halladay, the Chief Science Officer for the Autism Science Foundation in New York, “those with disabilities need to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as vaccines can prevent death”.

Similarly, there are more myths and theories that exist. Experts suggest that it is important to talk “facts” with vaccine-hesitant friends and family and help them make the right decision. It is best to reach out to your personal doctor or local health officials regarding your doubts. 

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