The question about vaccines

Ashlyn Davis

Vaccines. They prevent
between 2 and 3
million deaths per year.
And yet due to rumors
which negatively portray
the safety of vaccinations,
children are
still getting measles, children are still
getting mumps and children are still
dying.
Deadly illnesses like mumps, diptheria
and epidemic jaundice were first
recorded by Hippocrates in 400 BC. We
now have vaccinations to keep these
illnesses dormant.
Yet hundreds of years later, the
world still sees outbreaks of measles in
cities such as Los Angeles. In fact, LA
has seen a resurgence in cases of measles
just this year, according to Huffington
Post.
Just as artificial sweeteners (i.e. aspartame)
and genetically modified
foods come under fire, vaccines have
seen an aggrandizement of protest in
the past decade.
But why? What is making parents
more opposed to having their children
vaccinated even though it could save
their lives in the case of an epidemic?
The answer is simple: misinformation.
A 1998 publication in the medical
journal The Lancet written by Andrew
Wakefield fed the population a fear-inducing
proposal: vaccines could cause
autism.
Even though the study has since
been discredited and Wakefield’s medical
license revoked, parents still cling
to the possibility that vaccines could
alter their children.
However, there is simply no legitimate
scientific research to back this
up. While autism research is ongoing,
and nowhere near a definitive end, nowhere
has there been any reason to believe
vaccines cause autism.
And this propaganda that is spread
throughout communities is affecting
the lives of everyone.
According to an investigation by The
Hollywood Reporter, some schools in
the wealthy Los Angeles district have
60 to 70 percent of students unvaccinated;
numbers that resemble South
Sudan where parents face difficulty
vaccinating their children due to war.
There is no war in Los Angeles.
There is no lack of medical supplies, no
lack of licensed physicians. And quite
frankly, there is no excuse for these
children to not be vaccinated. In fact,
it’s selfish. It’s selfish to have their own
children at risk and it’s exceptionally
selfish to put other children at risk.
While it’s a choice of parents to have
their children vaccinated, it is a responsibility
to inform themselves of the actual
facts.
There’s a difference when considering
children with allergies to vaccines—
it’s understandable as to why
they aren’t protected. But public health
is still an issue and it always will be.
Even though America doesn’t face a
staggering amount of polio or smallpox
cases, that doesn’t mean the diseases
are completely eradicated. The reason
America doesn’t face epidemics is because
vaccines are readily available for
all. According to the Center for Disease
Control (CDC) in 1976 only 10 percent
of children were being vaccinated for
pertussis, leading to an outbreak of
13,000 cases of whooping cough and
41 deaths in Japan. When the vaccine
was reintroduced, the cases of pertussis
dropped.
It’s time to plan for the future, to
protect the future generations. Hanover’s
nursing teacher, Amy Bossiuex,
offered a solution to the misinformation
about vaccines, “Before school
starts, the CDC should do public service
announcements. If they really started
pushing announcements around June,
it will remind parents to get their children’s
immunizations updated. Not getting
immunizations, not preparing for
something, could have a lifelong effect.
It’s not just going to affect today.”
If media and the government shined
the same amount of light on vaccines
as they do the flu, or in recent light,
Ebola, more parents would be educated
on the facts and benefits of vaccinating.
With misunderstandings waived and
the facts laid out, fewer parents will be
exposed to propaganda against vaccinations.
More parents exposed to misleading
information means the decline of
vaccination rates.
Bossiuex also explained the difficulties
for adults when not vaccinated, “If
they [the people] didn’t get the vaccine
or never contracted chicken pox as a
child, it lasts three times as long—you
could have active chicken pox up to a
month as an adult.”
Children don’t make the decision to
have themselves vaccinated. They don’t
have the option to protect themselves
against deadly viruses; that means their
parents are responsible for protecting
their immune systems, not just from
birth but through their entire life.
Chris Thomas, another Hanover
nursing teacher, explained another red
flag for wary parents: the misconceptions
of reactions from vaccines, “Children
get side effects because vaccines
are a way of ‘dirtying’ the immune system.
The protein generates an immune
response that creates an immunity. The
side effects [of vaccines] in comparison
to the other things you could get from
these diseases, including death, are very
minimal. They’re usually achiness at
the injection sight, a low-grade fever.”
With the proper information spread,
vaccine stigma can be eliminated. With
that stigma eliminated, America, and
eventually the world, can build healthy
immune systems for everyone.

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Author: The Hawk Eye

Hanover High School, Mechanicsville, Virginia The Hawk Eye Student Newspaper thehawkeye@hcps.us

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