Vaccinations aren’t evil

Alex Turbeville, Managing Editor

The 20th and 21st centuries have been full of medical miracles that have saved the lives of millions. Between vaccines for polio, measles, mumps, yellow fever and more, countless people have suffered less from these diseases because of the hard work of scientists and doctors over the past century. In the developed world, we’ve completely eradicated diseases that plagued entire populations. So why is there now a movement to bring them back?

If you’re unfamiliar with the anti-vaccination movement, it’s a recent movement that looks to reduce or eliminate many vaccines out of a misguided fear that they are dangerous. But vaccines are not dangerous. A link between autism and vaccines has been disproven over and over, and besides the pain of needles, there is virtually no injury associated with vaccines. In fact, it’s the opposite. Harmful diseases saw their infection rates plummet when vaccines for them were introduced.

It’s important to note that this movement is affecting children the most. If parents don’t vaccinate their children, it may be too late for them when they’re old enough to get the vaccinations for themselves. And while some may argue that it is unhealthy to not let the child decide for themselves, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If a baby puts itself into danger, a parent shouldn’t stand by and hope it decides to save itself. The parent needs to step in for the health of the child, and the same logic applies to vaccinating children.

Hypothetically, if an unvaccinated child grew up and decided not to get shots for themselves, that would be okay, right? After all, it’s an adult making a decision for themselves. However, they’re not really just making a decision for themselves. Vaccines partially owe their success rates to herd immunity, meaning that when populations as a whole are immunized together, it lowers the overall risk of unhealthy diseases.

The ability to bring back eradicated diseases and infect unknowing populations with them makes this growing trend an alarming one. And while it still is a vocal minority, it is growing. The percentage of kids who receive no vaccines has quadrupled since 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The World Health Organization (WHO) listed the anti-vaccination movement as one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019.

I don’t say this out of unfounded fear that one day eradicated diseases will start coming back. They already have. Since 2016, there has been a 30 percent rise in cases of measles globally, according to the WHO. When the measles vaccine was introduced, there was a 99% percent drop in measles cases. However, in the United States, we’ve had hundreds of measles cases in the past few years, which is abysmal compared to the handful of cases that would arise before the rise of the anti-vaccination movement.

I understand the fear that parents have about vaccines. It’s natural to question why someone needs to put several large needles full of an unfamiliar substance into your baby. But that question has an answer. It’s because those substances have successfully saved lives. Please vaccinate yourself and your kids. It will do nothing but lead to a more healthy, successful future for them.