Vaccines Have Created a Healthier World
by Isabella Reese
Measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, shingles, tetanus: all have been eradicated by the invention of the vaccine. However, modern anti-vaccination movements, led by worried parents and celebrities, are compromising hundreds of years of innovation and progress toward a healthier world.
According to the Washington Post, there were 655 cases of measles in the United States in 2014, which is the highest it’s been since the eradication of Measles in 2000. Just this year, there have already been 102 cases in 14 states. The Center for Disease Control and prevention has determined that the cause is the choice of parents to delay or decline vaccines for their children. Much of the controversy surrounding vaccines has heated up in recent years. However, the modern anti-vaccine movement began in the late 90’s.
In 1998, former British surgeon and medical researcher, Andrew Wakefield published a research paper claiming that a link exists between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines and Autism. This paper has since been discredited: the test could not be replicated in other labs, decades of research have disproved the connection; the use of flawed techniques to get false positives in the results were just some of the reasons that Wakefield had his license to practice medicine taken from him.
Much of the controversy surrounding vaccines began with Wakefield, and since then, the torch has continued to burn with the help of celebrities.
Of those, model Jenny McCarthy has been a notable anti-vaccine activist. Albeit, she has begun to mend her reputation in recent months by claiming that she is not anti-vaccine, but merely wants “safer” vaccines. This hasn’t done much to mend her public image, and has spawned a relentless force of mothers choosing not to vaccinate their children.
This comes full-circle to the recent measles outbreak. One cannot criticize parents who care deeply for their children’s health, which is really at the heart of the issue. Parents don’t want their children to have developmental issues, to be sick, or be in pain. This is something everyone can understand.
However, when parents see their actions as just drops in a partially full bucket, the drops add up: the volume of people opting out of vaccination is swelling in volume, and the effects of this are beginning to spread. Those with compromised immune systems, or have weakened immune systems due to age are susceptible to these diseases because they cannot get the vaccine. Those who can are not refusing to, and because of this, those with weakened or compromised immune systems are more likely to fall victim to these illnesses.
It is truly the sign of a privileged society that all of the medical supplies needed to ensure a healthy existence are handed to many on a silver platter, and instead of accepting them happily, they are refused because of a misled populace.
Vaccines are one of the greatest medical innovations, and because of them, and the medical researchers who work day and night to create them, so many diseases that have ravaged societies and groups of people have been nearly eliminated. The quality of life in the world is improving because of vaccines, and an uninformed force of concerned parents is compromising this.