Valuing vaccines

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91.1 percent of children aged 19-35 months are vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). Vaccines have been created to build up the immune system, giving protection from deadly diseases and prevent children from contracting them. States shouldn’t have the options have opt out vaccines due to religious beliefs. Parents need to be aware of the dangers if supporting the anti-vax movements and the consequences that follow.

In the United States it’s legal to have a waiver signed by the Health Department for children to be excused from immunizations due to religious beliefs in 18 states.

In Washington State, for example, during the month of January 2019, there were 35 cases of measles in just Clark County alone. The children ranged from one to 10 years old and were not vaccinated. In Clark County, 7.9 percent of children had received or been exempt exemptions from vaccines for entry to kindergarten in the 2017-2018 school year, according to the Washington Post. Additionally in Oregon, the rate of vaccine exemptions has increased, from 5.8 percent in 2015 to 7.5 percent in 2018 according to Vox. That’s much higher than the national average, which suggests two percent of children go unvaccinated for nonmedical reasons.  

Due to the advances in medical science regarding vaccines, children can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Many diseases such as smallpox, which at one point in history (1949) once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely, and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines.

“Getting vaccinated prevents preventable diseases, it also helped fueled the medical industry, which is big a portion of U.S spending,” junior Madden Brady said. “To prevent outbreaks of measles, or the resurgences of smallpox to prevent more children and elderly people from dying.”  

Polio is one example of how vaccines can greatly impact children’s health in the United States. Polio was once America’s most-feared disease, but today, thanks to vaccination requirements, there have been no reports of polio outbreaks in the United States since the 1970s according to the CDC.

Vaccines have only been given to children after long periods of research by scientists and doctors. The Anti-vax agenda flourishes on how the side effects of vaccines such as autism will cause more harm to children if a parent chooses to to get CDC-recommended vaccines.

Serious side effects occasionally follow being vaccinated, such as severe allergic reactions, are very rare, but have happened. The chances of developing a reaction after given the MMR or Hepatitis B vaccine are one in a million according to the CDC.  The benefits of being vaccinated outweigh the risks by far. Anti-vax groups on facebook have created a fear for parents that their children will develop autism or will be sick constantly due to being vaccinated. However, in reality vaccines are meant to save the lives of not only children, but the general public as well.

The first common immunizations such as measles and smallpox were distributed to the public in the 1960s. If parents continue to vaccinate their children, not only will certain diseases stop spreading, but overtime the long term effects could eliminate the dangers of infants dying due to being surrounded by unvaccinated children.

“They prevent diseases and forensic deaths that are unnecessary, and people get to live their lives,” Braddy said. “Yeah, you’ll still catch the common cold, but whatever. Just get over it, just get vaccinated.”

Children in the U.S still contract vaccine preventable diseases. The resurgences of measles and whooping cough have resurface. According to U.S Department of Health and Human services, since 2010, there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough each year in the United States, as well as between 10 to 20 babies have died to each year. Infants under the age of one are too young to receive the MMR vaccine, making them more susceptible to contract deadly diseases, as a result of a underdeveloped immune system. Vaccines not only protect family, but also help to prevent the spread of these diseases to the public. By choosing the unvaccinated route it’s putting the general public at risk.

The federal government needs to educate the public on the importance of vaccines and make the option of opting out illegal. The option to opt out of vaccines due to religious beliefs shouldn’t be legal. Parents are not only endangering their children’s lives, they are also affecting others around them. Vaccines should be required by every state, and the public needs to be informed about the positive effects of vaccinations, and not be persuaded by information seen on social media.

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Giselle Mahoney, MacKenzie Thackery

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