In the recent trend of American media and politicians politicizing science, vaccines have become a hot button issue for many states across the nation, as many places have recently had outbreaks of measles, a disease that can be prevented by vaccination. However, with many parents refusing to vaccinate their children — despite pressure from medical professionals — preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella are making a comeback, leaving babies, the elderly, and pregnant women at risk for diseases which they cannot be vaccinated for.
According to a CBS News poll conducted in February, more than 60 percent of Americans believe that vaccines should be required for children. However, because of common misconceptions concerning inoculation and drug immunization, many Americans continue to believe that vaccines will harm their children.
One of the most common misconceptions about vaccinations is that they have been responsible for causing autism in some children, which is a fraudulent finding popularized by former surgeon and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield. While the study has been completely redacted after being debunked by hundreds of other studies, many Americans believe that vaccines have some part in causing autism. When the study was put under further examination from its original publication date in 1998, however, it contained undisclosed financial conflicts, and Wakefield was found guilty of 12 counts involving the abuse of developmentally challenged children. Nearly all medical professionals agree that absolutely no part of Wakefield’s study is truthful.
It is easy for many Americans to get scared about vaccination because of the complex ways in which they work. Vaccines involve a mixture of complex chemicals, including active components, stabilizers, adjuvants (substances that enhance the body’s immune response to antigens found in active components), antibiotics, preservatives, and trace components that scare many people. However, the addition of chemical additives in vaccines is so minute, that many sources of these chemicals are present in everyday life with higher concentrations of toxins. The chemicals and antibiotics added are used to prevent bacterial contamination of vaccines and are often removed before being used.
Vaccines are not dangerous, and furthermore, they are absolutely necessary. The reasoning behind immunizing healthy children is that it prevents diseases spreading to people who cannot get vaccines; namely, pregnant women, children with immunodeficiency disorders or allergies, and babies younger than two months old. When healthy children do not get immunized, they may deal with sickness easily, but infect someone vulnerable to the disease, for whom the consequences can be much more disastrous. One example of this is rubella, a disease characterized by a short rash and flu-like symptoms that many young children easily deal with. However, when contracted by pregnant women, it can cause congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which causes severe heart disorders, blindness, deafness, and other life-threatening organ disorders in the unborn child. A lack of vaccination leads to increases in the number of medically vulnerable people getting sick and potentially dying or causing incurable diseases and disabilities.
There is a certain level of personal responsibility needed in our society required to protect other even if it requires citizens giving up a level of personal freedom. Car insurance is required to legally drive and firearms licenses are required to own guns. Vaccines should be required for participation in public schools and workplaces. The risks are too high to ignore.