The case for getting vaccinated


Kernel Opinion SIG

According to a survey done by the American Society for Microbiology and Research America, fewer American adults now support getting vaccinated.

The survey shows that in 2008, 82 percent of Americans though it was “very important” to have children vaccinated. That percentage dropped to 71 percent this year. Why are fewer Americans vaccinating their kids?

What is the purpose of vaccines? Vaccines are administered to prevent a variety of diseases and viruses, namely polio, varicella (flu), and MMR (mumps, measles and rubella). Vaccines contain a weakened or dead strain of the virus in order to make your immune system recognize the virus. Your immune system is then able to recognize the virus in the future and create the appropriate antibodies (that attack the virus) in order to prevent the virus from spreading in your body.

Major diseases, such as smallpox, have been eradicated from the human population. In the 20th century alone, smallpox killed 300 million people. Polio, another disease for which there is a vaccine, causes paralysis and can affect people from birth. According the Center for Disease Control’s website, before the vaccine was made (in 1955), polio “was once considered one of the most feared diseases in the United States.” Thankfully, since 1979, polio has been successfully eradicated from the United States. 

From birth until age 18, and well after that as well, the CDC recommends getting several vaccines, including hepatitis A, tetanus, varicella, just to name a few. Since vaccines are not required by law, there are some parents who choose not to get their kids vaccinated. Unfortunately, that is sometimes due to a lot of pseudoscience being spread around on social media. A common myth is that vaccines cause autism.

In 1997, a British scientist by the name of Andrew Wakefield published an article saying that the MMR vaccine increased the rate of autism in British children. No other article has found any such correlation. In fact, Wakefield’s article was discredited due to ethics violations and major errors in his methods. Wakefield ended up losing his medical license as well. Yet there are people who still believe in this myth, despite the fact the article has no scientific value. 

In all honesty, not getting vaccinated comes down to selfishness. There are some people who cannot get vaccinated, like older people with compromised immune systems, people with autoimmune disorders who already have a weakened immune system and babies who have not received all of their vaccines yet. Vaccines provide “herd immunity,” meaning that if that majority of the population is vaccinated and resistant to the disease, the disease won’t be able to spread. 

Unless you have a legitimate reason not to get vaccinated, as I stated above, there is absolutely no reason not to get you and your kids vaccinated.