Dangers of being unvaccinated

Edward Jenner is considered the founder of vaccinology after creating the first smallpox vaccine in 1798. Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 58 vaccines used in the United States. It is unlikely that most people will receive all 58 separately in their lifetime due to modern-day technology of combining multiple vaccines into one, but there are several that are received more than once – including the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Td or Tdap) vaccine, and the polio vaccine.

Vaccines themselves are divided into groups based off of what they do.  There are several different types of vaccines. According to vaccines.gov, when creating vaccines, doctors ask themselves:

  • How someone’s immune system responds to the germ
  • Who needs to be vaccinated against the germ
  • What is the best technology or approach to create the vaccine

These factors determine what type of vaccine is used. There are four main types of vaccines:

  • Live-attenuated vaccines
  • Inactivated vaccines
  • Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines
  • Toxoid vaccines

Between 1991 and 2004, according to a study done by Dr. Saad B. Omer for the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average percentage of nonmedical exemptions from vaccines increased from 0.98 to 1.48 percent. The increase may have been due in part to rumours of vaccines causing other diseases, such as autism.

In 1998, a study was published to British medical journal The Lancet by then-physician Dr. Andrew Wakefield. The study linked the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine as a direct cause of autism. In the next 12 years, multiple studies were produced to track the correlation of autism and the MMR vaccines. The Lancet retracted the study in 2010, and three months later Britain’s General Medical Council officially banned Wakefield from practicing medicine in Britain due to his “callous disregard” for children and their health in his research.

In a comprehensive study published by The New England Journal of Medicine, all children born January 1991 to December 1998 in Denmark were tested for autism in correlation with vaccinations. Of the 527,303 children in the population, 440,655 (or 82 percent) were given the MMR vaccination. A total of 738 children were diagnosed with a disorder on the autistic spectrum after receiving the vaccine. The study concludes by saying that the 0.1 percent of the population of children diagnosed provides evidence against the MMR vaccine causing autism.

Since then, despite it being disproved, there are parents that still believe in the causation of autism due to the MMR vaccines. The fear caused by that scare and the usage of social media pushed the anti-vaccine movement into the 2010s.

From 2009 to 2010, there were 11,887.88 more deaths due to measles around the world. Because measles is highly contagious, its effects spread rapidly. However, there is a vaccine for it and since the vaccine was created in 1963, deaths have been consistently decreasing. 

States have differing laws on what vaccinations are required to enroll in public school. A law approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules of Michigan in Dec. of 2014 required parents to speak with a local health department representative about their questions or concerns.

According to DHS registrar Joe Moore, students need to get a waiver filled out and signed to be eligible to attend school without up-to-date vaccinations. The waiver can be only be attained by going to the Midland County Health Department.

“Vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry a risk of injury or death,” writer Barbara Fisher said in an article posted by The Vaccine Reaction. “There are genetic, biological and environmental high risk factors that make some people more susceptible to vaccine harm, a fact Congress acknowledged in 1986 in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act when it shielded vaccine manufacturers from civil liability.”

Fisher’s argument is that schools requiring children to be vaccinated is a violation of parents’ rights. However, the requirement is due to unvaccinated students potentially passing on diseases they have to other children. Because they are putting other children at risk, they’re not just putting themselves in danger.

A vaccine is a type of medicine that trains the body’s immune system so that it can fight a disease it has not come into contact with before. Vaccines are designed to prevent disease, rather than treat a disease once it’s been caught. Researching vaccines or speaking to a medical professional if there are questions or concerns is recommended by the CDC and the National Vaccine Information Center.

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Mac Thackery, Giselle Mahoney

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