Vaccine safety has become a source of debate in recent years. Get the facts about these five common vaccination myths before you pick a side. 

Myth: Vaccines cause autism

Fact: The research says they don’t. After a 1998 study linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism, the study was discredited and retracted from publication. Since then, numerous studies from major organizations, including the World Health Organization, have failed to find any relationship between childhood vaccinations and autism.

Myth: Vaccines aren’t necessary

Fact: Vaccines prevent between two and three million deaths around the world every year, according to the World Health Organization. Not only do vaccines help the body build up resistance to potentially fatal infectious diseases, they also make a person less likely to pass one of those diseases onto someone else. Unvaccinated children and adults can spread disease to those who are too young or too medically fragile to be immunized. That means missing even one shot could not only endanger a person’s life, but the lives of others around them.

Myth: Vaccines causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Fact: In 2003, the Institute of Medicine found no association between immunizations and childhood deaths. Other studies since then haven’t found a link, either. It’s possible the speculation of a link could have arisen out of coincidence. That’s because most cases of SIDS occur in infants younger than 12 months, and by that point a child could have as many as 15 vaccinations.

Myth: It’s not safe to give multiple childhood vaccines at one time

Fact: The evidence shows that’s not the case. Both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend kids receive several routine childhood vaccines at once, as long as he or she has a healthy immune system. Giving a child simultaneous vaccines, as well as combined vaccines, has its advantages, including fewer trips to the doctor’s office and a higher likelihood of completing recommended vaccines on schedule.

Myth: Vaccines are just for kids

Fact: Adults, travelers and pregnant women all need vaccinations for different reasons. Experts estimate that more adults die of vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. than from prostate cancer or car accidents. Here’s a rundown of the vaccines you may need as an adult:

  • Influenza: The flu shot is recommended for people six months and older.
  • Tdap: Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis is given in lieu of a simple Td booster, followed by a Td booster every 10 years.
  • Zoster: The shingles vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years and older.
  • Pneumococcal: The pneumonia vaccine is recommended for adults 65 and older.

Certain adults may also need vaccines for meningitis, hepatitis, chickenpox, HPV and other conditions.

Talk with your doctor to see what vaccines are right for you.