Misconceptions about Vaccines

As Sudan prepares to vaccinate 8.6 million children against Polio, many misconceptions and false news have been circulating, it is important to have access to correct information.

Iman Mustafa
04 November 2020

Vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) was confirmed in Sudan on 8 August. This strain of poliovirus managed to cause Polio cases as a result of low immunity and under-immunization of communities, the vaccine remains safe and very effective in protecting children from Poliomyelitis.rather than a problem with the vaccine.

UNICEF helped procure nearly 10 million doses of polio vaccines that arrived to Sudan on October 1st. These vaccines will be used during the National Polio Campaign, led by Federal Ministry of Health and supported by WHO  and  UNICEF.

As Sudan prepares to vaccinate 8.6 million children under the age of 5 country wide against polio, many misconceptions and false news have been circulating. It is important to get the correct information from medical professionals and credible sources.


Here are the top misconceptions to help you better understand:


“Better sanitation and hygiene are more effective than vaccines”

Although hygiene and sanitation play a key role in reducing transmission of poliomyelitis and preventing outbreaks, it does not  fully protect alone, the immune system of your body needs to be stimulated, ready to recognize Polio virus when it enters the body and prevent it from causing the disease  . This is done through vaccination, vaccines are products that are usually given in childhood to protect against serious, often deadly diseases. By stimulating your body’s natural defenses, they prepare your body to fight the disease faster and more effectively.

“People who are vaccinated still get the disease”

No vaccine is 100% effective, for reasons related to the person themselves, not all vaccinated develop immunity. Most routine childhood vaccines are effective 85% to 95%.  However, if the majority are vaccinated, it is less likely for an outbreak to occur as those vaccinated outnumber those who are not.

Vaccines cause harmful side effects and unknown long-term effects”

Vaccines are very safe! Most vaccine adverse events are minor and temporary like a sore arm or mild fever. In fact, children are more likely to be harmed with long term affects by diseases than any vaccine they take. Oral Polio vaccine is one of the safest vaccines are rarely cause mild adverse effects

“There are no diseases in my country, so there is no need for my child to be vaccinated”

Many countries have very low levels of disease due to previous mass vaccinations. Many of these diseases remain prevalent due to travelers unknowingly bringing diseases to any country, and if the community is not protected, the disease can quickly spread throughout the population.

“My child received his routine polio vaccination few days back, so no need to vaccinate him/her during this campaign”

Children are exposed to new antigens every day from bacteria in food into the body, to numerous bacteria that live in their mouth and nose that expose the immune system to more antigens. Therefore. studies have shown that vaccines are as effective in combination as they are individually, and they do not carry any great risk.

“The vaccine is the disease itself, they are bringing Polio to Sudan”

The vaccine is only available effective way for protecting our children from both the wild and the vaccine derived (mutated) types of Poliovirus. Non vaccinating our children which implies not training their immune system to appropriately respond and kill the viruses when contracted from the environment, will contribute to availing susceptible population, continued circulation of Polio virus and having more and more children diseased and paralyzed by both wild and vaccine derived Polio viruses.

Campaigns in general are additional opportunity for vaccination to boost child’s immunity against the disease. Vaccination during campaign is given regardless of previous or recent history of vaccination. For the coming oral Polio vaccination campaigns caregivers need to ensure that their children up to five years are vaccinated to ensure they are protected against type 2 Polio disease even if they received their routine vaccination in the health facility recently


The polio campaign is supported by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), an organization dedicated to the eradication of polio. The GPEI is spearheaded by national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and UNICEF, and supported by key partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.