Movement against vaccinations is harmful to society

Preventable diseases return due to medical misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers

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Movement against vaccinations is harmful to society

Photo by: Sumin Kim

Photo by: Sumin Kim

Photo by: Sumin Kim

Editorial

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An anti-vaccination movement has been growing in the United States, creating hot spots of vaccine-resistant communities in areas across the country. Media attention to the controversy has publicized the issue, but many people are making judgements on vaccines without all the evidence needed to make an informed decision regarding the use of them.

Self-proclaimed “anti-vaxxers,” or those who choose to skip out on their and their children’s vaccines, are making a personal decision, but that so-called personal preference is putting other people in danger who might not be able to safely take vaccines for medical reasons. Vaccinations should be state-mandated and only those people who have valid health-related or religious objection to them should be allowed to pull their students from getting the needed shots.

When the majority of a community gets vaccinated, herd immunity helps to prevent the spread of diseases within the community. The refusal of anti-vaxxers to participate in a community effort to keep everyone healthy can easily be seen as selfish unless they have true, scientifically-based health concerns that prevent them from receiving vaccinations.

In only the past few weeks, Washington, New York and New Jersey have all faced outbreaks of the measles disease, which has been considered eliminated in the U.S. since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles can be easily treated through current vaccinations in order to prevent unnecessary deaths, but with the movement of anti-vaxxers, the fatal outbreaks of this viral infection have been spurred back to life.

Many anti-vaxxers argue the claim that vaccinations can cause autism in children, but there is no credible evidence linking the two. This idea found its roots in a questionably executed report written by discredited former British doctor Andrew Wakefield and published in The Lancet in 1998. His article claims that there are direct links between vaccines and autism in children, thus causing a panic amongst the general population.

Since then, almost all of the other authors of the report have disavowed it and The Lancet retracted it in 2004. A multitude of other scientists have studied hundreds of thousands of children throughout many years, and no credible relationship has been found.

Vaccines introduce a weakened or dead version of a bacterium or virus responsible for a disease into the body in order for the body to detect and destroy it.

While it seems counter-productive to inject a child with pathogens in an attempt to prevent disease, the body’s immune system attacks these weak versions of the pathogen just like it would a full-strength infection, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

After the immune system creates specific antibodies to fight off the vaccine material, those antibodies remain in the body, prepared to go to work in the event of an actual infection. The science behind vaccines is sound, and following the immunization schedule created by the American Academy of Pediatrics is proven to protect children’s health.

In order to protect the general public, vaccinations should be mandated by state and federal governments for every eligible person.

Many schools already require students be vaccinated before they can attend, but have exemptions for those who claim religious or personal objections to vaccines. These exemptions should remain available, however, the personal exemptions should be limited to physician-verified health concerns.

Although the majority of the population can safely take vaccinations, age, health conditions, and other factors can make vaccines dangerous to some. This group that is unable to protect themselves through vaccinations rely on everyone around them for herd immunity.

Hopefully, anti-vaxxers will change their stance upon comprehension of the factsregarding vaccinations. Vaccinations are protective, beneficial, and necessary for a healthy community.

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