Editorial: Anti-vaccination hurts everyone


Vaccinations are an important aspect of a child’s health, but broader than that, they are an important aspect of public health. Knowing this, it seems ridiculous that people would even fathom not vaccinating their children. Unfortunately from the creation of the first vaccine until now, the mindset of not vaccinating children has persisted. Vaccines prevent diseases and make the world a much safer place. The fact that they do not cause autism is just the cherry on top. To spell that out clearly, vaccinations do not cause autism.

People who advocate for children not being vaccinated are a menace to society — to the children and to every single person, child or adult, who comes into contact with those children.

For example, Generation Rescue is a non-profit organization that suggests diseases such as autism are the result of environmental factors including vaccines. Although these claims lack scientific evidence, the organization’s media campaign, which included full-page ads in the New York Times and USA Today, has given it traction within society. Generation Rescue is fronted by celebrity Jenny McCarthy who has been known to advocate for anti-vaccination practices.

Despite this media coverage. according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1994 – 2013, vaccines prevented over 322 million illnesses, over 21 million hospitalizations and over 731,000 deaths. More importantly, there have been zero cases of vaccines causing autism.

Vaccines are wonderful advances in medicine. The ability to prevent all of the pain or even just the inconvenience of diseases such as the chicken pox is something society is very fortunate to have. These vaccines are the result of years of experimentation, millions of dollars and a lot of time — not to mention the stringent process these drugs must go through to become available for public use.

Knowing this, it is absolutely ridiculous people are still trying to convince other people that vaccines are harmful to their children. It makes no sense.

To combat this misinformation on the risks of vaccines and to encourage parents to become more informed about the benefits and risks of vaccines, we propose stricter channels parents must go through to exempt their children from the vaccination requirements. The government should require parents who want to refuse to vaccinate their children to take a series of classes and tests that ensures they understand how choosing not to vaccinate is dangerous to their children and can also put anyone their children comes into contact with, especially other children, at risk.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the causes of autism are not known. They current theory suggests autism is a genetically based disorder that is thought to begin before birth. Part of the reason people may associate a vaccination such as MMR with autism is because autism may manifest itself in children between the age of 18 months to 30 months and the MMR vaccination as well as other shots toddlers receive are given right before the peak age of autism onset. But correlation does not equal causation.

The most well known study linking vaccinations to autism was written by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in 1998. However, his findings could not be replicated and his study was later retracted from the journal in which is was published. Alternatively, many studies have been conducted that found no link between autism and vaccinations, including a review article by the Institute of Medicine.

We understand it is unfair to require all parents vaccinate their children because many times there are religious and moral reason as to why parents refuse to vaccinate.

The anti-vaccination movement has been credited with the increase in outbreaks of preventable diseases over the last several years. An interactive map by the Council on Foreign Relations illustrates the resurgence of diseases that have begun to pop up around the world. The number of measles cases in Europe has increased since 2008. Much of Africa and Asia have had outbreaks of the measles as well. Whooping cough has returned to the United States.

These are two of the deadliest diseases vaccines can combat — preventable, horrible, awful diseases children are subject to because their parents refuse to vaccinate.

For this reason, it is very necessary to ensure parents are appropriately educated and informed about the necessity of vaccinations for the sake of society and public health.