Vaccines have been integrated into modern medicine to eradicate the presence of deadly diseases. Vaccines are said to be the cause of decline of deaths of infectious diseases. Herd Immunity is a concept in which protecting a whole community from a disease by providing vaccines to most of the population. Meanwhile there has been a rise of anti-vaxxers. This group of people refuse to vaccinate or put on hold on immunizing their children because they believe that vaccines are harmful. The believe that the side effect of immunizing heavily outweigh the benefits.
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate
Vaccines are known as the greatest accomplishment of modern medicine because many have grown up without exposure to the deadly diseases that they are being protected against such as polio, measles and whopping cough. Vaccinations are said to be the cause of decline of deaths of infectious diseases and the eradication of smallpox. However, in the recent decade, anti-vaxxers are refusing to immunize their children for various reasons. Some believe that vaccines are not safe, and they do not work. Some believe that vaccines should be mandatory because vaccines are safe and effective, meanwhile some believe that there is no use for them or that they are too toxic.
Why are Vaccines Safe?
According to the World Health Organization, “a vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a disease.” Vaccines are safe because they protect the individual from the deadly disease. Vaccines are not easily made, they must go through a lot of routine testing, just other medications. Vaccines are just like other medication which means they have side effects. According to Largent, vaccines have side effects such as redness, pain, high fever, and allergic reactions (Largent, 2012 pg. 20). He also explains that these side effects are extremely rare, which deems vaccines safe. Vaccines are safe because they prevent the suffering and the cost associated with vaccine-preventable diseases.
Why are vaccines effective?
The CDC provides a recommended set of vaccinations for every age to get the maximin effect of the vaccine. The main purpose of a vaccination is not only to build the individual’s immunity but also the community. According to Willingham and Helft, “herd immunity refers to a means of protecting a whole community from disease by immunizing a critical mass of its populace,” (Helft &Willingham, 2014). The reason why health professionals believe that everyone should get vaccinated because it protects more than the immunized individual.
Figure 1: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (2014)
As shown in the figure above, mass vaccination works to break the chain of transmission of the disease. Herd immunity is important because our communities are not so small anymore. In the United States, there are very small cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world are like that. One person who travels to a place with a disease can travel back home and infect those who are not vaccinated. However, if most of the population were immunized against that disease, then there will be no outbreak. If majority of the population gets vaccinated, it can protect those who can’t receive vaccinations such as individuals with HIV, elderly people, kids with compromised immune system. For those people, vaccines are effective because the community is only thing protecting them from life-threatening diseases.
Why do we still get vaccinated?
Vaccines have been introduced into modern medicine for decades, however many people have not seen these diseases in years. The diseases that the population is getting vaccinated against are at an all-time low. Anti-vaxxers believe that since there is an decline in infectious disease, there is no reason to continuing putting various chemicals in their children’s bodies. There is also data that shows that vaccination was not the reason for decline in infectious disease, it was good sanitation.
Figure 2: Michael Alderson (1981) International Mortality Statistics
Polio was on the decline before the vaccination was introduced, according the Dr. Perkins (2012). The main reason for an outbreak of infectious diseases are due to poor sanction and nutrition. Anti-vaxxers choose not the vaccinate their children because they see no presence of infectious disease. To this particular group of people, vaccines do not work and there is no use for them.
Too Soon, Too Toxic
Another reason why parents are being hesitant or refusing their kids of vaccinations is because they believe that vaccinations have too many chemicals and have dangerous side effects. Ellison (2018) explains that vaccines contain toxins such as “monkey kidney cells and aborted fetal tissue,” and he advocates that he will never vaccinate his children due to the contents of vaccines. Some parents do not believe in using the recommended track of vaccination because they believe that it leaves their child with a weak immune system. The President of the US, tweeted in 2014, that “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM.” Although there is so much research that shows that autism has no correlation with vaccination, many parents believe that vaccines are not good. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children on the right schedule or not at all, make such decision because they believe that vaccines are unsafe and have too many toxins.
Overall, vaccines have improved our quality of life. Many health professionals believe that vaccines have added thirty years to our lifespan. However, there are some people who believe that better quality of life was due to the improvement of sanitation. Vaccines are the reason for the eradication of smallpox, while to others, vaccines are the main cause of autism. As explained previously, immunization is not just used to protect just the individual but also those who are around the individual. The reason why vaccines are effective are not the science behind it, it is because the people who get vaccinated. Herd immunity is an important concept, because there are a lot of people who cannot get vaccinated, so they rely on a healthy community. Vaccines are safe and effective, and the benefits greatly outweigh the side effects.