The debate on whether or not vaccines are necessary has persisted for far too long.
Studies are continuously being done to debunk the notion that vaccines cause autism –– a claim that was first made in the 1990s by a British doctor who seemingly found a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.
In 2011, however, this report was found to be falsified, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Therefore, the money being spent to debunk the anti-vaccination movement is being wasted, because enough research has already been done to disprove the notion that vaccines cause autism. Various organizations, however, are still researching this because anti-vaxxers are still going strong, and some parents cannot seem to understand that if their children are able to be vaccinated, then they need to be.
Let us explain the phrase, “able to be vaccinated,” because not everyone may realize that some people actually can’t be vaccinated. When you are vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself from future outbreaks, but you are also protecting the people around you. This is known as “community immunity,” or “herd immunity,” and according to Vaccines.gov, is imperative to be vaccinated because there are members of your community that have either serious allergies or weak immune systems that cannot stand to be vaccinated.
Since there are people who cannot physically be vaccinated, it falls upon the rest of the community to ensure that outbreaks of old diseases such as the measles and the mumps do not occur. Everyone that can be vaccinated should be vaccinated, not only for their own health, but for the health of everyone around them.
This does not resonate with everyone, however, as measles cases have again begun to spring up around the country, particularly in Texas. According to Houston Public Media, 12 measles cases have been confirmed in Texas in the last year, the most recent of which was verified March 19 in Collin County.
The article describes measles as a “highly contagious respiratory illness transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes virus particles into the air,” and reaffirms that the best way to protect against this disease is through vaccinations.
While it is currently up to parents to decide whether or not their children will receive vaccinations, there are some young adults who have begun taking matters into their own hands when they reach a legal age.
Ethan Lindenberger, and 18-year-old high school student from Ohio, testified in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington, D.C. about his decision to be vaccinated even though his mother was against it during his childhood.
According to BuzzFeed News, Lindenberger conducted his own research on vaccines so that he could make an informed choice about his future and referred to vaccines as a “medical miracle.” Ultimately, he said he recognized that his mother only wanted what was best for him, and that the anti-vaxx movement relies primarily on fear and parents’ instincts to protect their children.
Therefore, for those who are still not completely sold on the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing rare diseases, we suggest that you follow Lindenberger’s model and conduct your own research.
Spend time reading through the anecdotes laid out by anti-vaxxers, but also balance those stories with cold, hard data from reliable organizations such as the CDC, as well as stories from children who have benefited from herd immunity in a community. While you may feel that your children’s lives are on the line, so are lives of children all across the country who physically cannot be vaccinated for various medical reasons.