In the past hundred years technology and science have advanced in humanities favor. What were once horrendous rapidly spreading diseases now have been eradicated due to vaccinations of hundreds of ailments. Vaccines have contributed to keeping millions of children alive and healthy; who would ever be against healthy children? Crazily enough there is a growing number of people who refuse to vaccinate their children due to the fear that the vaccines cause more harm than good or the fear that they are just not effective. While the uproar of anti-vaxxers is slowly taking over; there are many reasons why vaccinations are important to our public health.
Just one hundred years ago the United States had little to no vaccines regularly given out to the public. Diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, smallpox, and whooping cough were spreading like wildfire. The survival rate of these diseases were very low, and it left families of sick children praying for anyway to help their kids. Sadly many children of this time never recovered from these illnesses. The amounts of weak, paralyzed, and dying children was heartbreaking. Scientists were hard at work to find a prevention and eventually developed vaccinations that were given to the public. One of the vaccines that science has brought us is the MMR vaccine. MMR protects us from the measles, mumps, and rubella. It was created using all three viruses, but at a much weaker form (Page). This vaccine has saved many of lives and helped prevent tons of horrible damage that is caused by the three diseases. Even though these vaccines have been scientifically tested and have proof of working; there has been a growing population of people who refuse to vaccinate their children. Many of these parents just do not believe that the MMR vaccine works; however, a growing number of parents have been convinced that the vaccine causes autism.
The belief that the MMR vaccine causes autism has not been around for very long. Andrew Wakefield could be considered the so-called founder of this idea. In his article “MMR Vaccine: A Parents’ Dilemma,” Wakefield attempts to connect the possible correlation between vaccination and autism. Wakefield is a gastroenterologist in London who investigated children with autism whose parents claimed it developed from the MMR vaccinations (Page). One of Wakefield’s most famous studies was one he did on twelve children who developed autism a few weeks after receiving the MMR vaccine. He was researching on whether or not MMR, autism, and irritable bowel syndrome were all connected (Page). After this study he decided that he had enough evidence to further his research. At first glance the fact that they all developed autism right after the MMR vaccine could be seen as alarming; however, taking in consideration that autism is typically detected when kids are about 18 months old, it is a lot less alarming (Page). Additionally Andrew Wakefield should not be seen as a credible source about anything vaccine related given his history of ethical violations, research fraud, and misrepresentation of studies (Johanson 97). Furthermore, Wakefield is only a gastroenterologist, not a psychologist. He was not, and is not, a trained specialist on the topic of autism, let alone any mental illness. Regardless his false, baseless studies caused an uproar of angry parents.
Many anti-vaxxers, if not fearing that vaccines cause autism, just do not see why they must vaccinate their children. In this generation parents with young children never had to deal with these agonizing diseases. They’ve never seen how horrendous and devastating that they are, and end up worrying more about the side effects of the vaccines rather than the diseases in which they prevent (Johanson 45). Young parents of this time have all had the advantage of having safe vaccinations and did not have to grow up worrying about contracting the polio virus and possibly being paralyzed. Some parents might think that if no one ever gets these diseases anymore then why should they have to vaccinate their kids? Other than the fact that the likelihood of children being hospitalized with pneumonia being 6.5 times more than if they were vaccinated, it would ultimately deteriorate our herd immunity (Wendel). “Herd immunity refers to a level of immunity achieved when enough members of a population are vaccinated against an infectious disease so they can protect others who haven’t developed immunity” (Johanson 26). Herd immunity is especially important to those who have compromised immune systems and may not be fit to be vaccinated. Why would anyone reject vaccinations just because everyone else is being vaccinated? Vaccines are thought to be preventing “forty-two thousand deaths and twenty million infections,” as well as preventing many serious epidemics (Trimmer 62). Vaccines are truly for the well-being of our children, and there are ways that can help children get free vaccines! Children who are uninsured or insured by Medicaid are both eligible for free vaccines under the Vaccines for Children program (Sun). Children deserve to be vaccinated to protect themselves and everyone around them.
Many states in America are trying to combat the sudden anti-vaccination movement in many ways. Right now, there are only three states that do not allow either religious or personal exemptions for vaccination (Johanson 209). Children who are living in these three states are not allowed to go to public schools if they are aren’t vaccinated. In one case there was an outrage that unvaccinated children were denied access to go to daycare (England 25). No one wants their children to get sick, so of course unvaccinated children should not go to daycare. In daycare sickness spreads like wildfires and if a child is unprotected– which studies show there are about 100,000 children who are two years or younger that have not received a single vaccination– then everyone’s children will get seriously ill (Sun). Anti-vaxxer parents, if they truly want the best for their children, should never begin to take their children to such a sickly place. These states are trying their hardest to boost our herd immunity leading to less children getting seriously ill.
Overall, vaccines were developed for the safety of our children and future generations. Everyone would take scheduled vaccines very seriously and keep up to date on them; the safety of the children are at stake. No one wants to relive a time were they we had to worry about if polio was going to take their children’s life. Protect the children of America and vaccinate.
- England, Christina. “ These Tricks are Played to Get You to Vaccinate Your Child.” Should Vaccinations Be Mandatory? Edited by Farmington Hills. Greenhaven Press, 2014. 17-25.
- Johanson, Paula, Ed. Critical Perspectives on Vaccinations. Enslow Publishing, 2017.
- “Mounting a Ground War Against Anti-Vaxxers.” Boston Globe, 31 Jan. 2018, pp. A. 10.
- SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com. Page, Michael L., and Claire Ainsworth. “MMR Vaccine: A Parents’ Dilemma.” New Scientist, Feb. 2001, pp 8-11. SIRS Issues Researcher. https://sks.sirs.com.
- Sun, Lena H. “Small but Growing Number of U.S. Children Not Getting Vaccinated.” Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2018, pp. A.3. SIRS ISsues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.
- Trimmer, John. “Widespread Vaccine Exemptions Messing with Herd Immunity.” Should Vaccinations Be Mandatory? Edited by Farmington Hills. Greenhaven Press, 2014. 62-65.
- Wendel, Tim. “Pro: Evidence Favoring Vaccination is Overwhelming.” TCA News Service, 29 Mar. 2018. SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.