Rowena Lester

Vaccination is a controversial topic that has been discussed for decades. Despite many pieces of evidence that conclude that vaccines are indeed beneficial to the average human’s immune system and overall health, many still argue that vaccination causes pernicious effects on the body; this is usually justified with scientifically poor and unreliable statements and personal stories. These opinions, however, can be disproved with verified data that confirms what good vaccines do for the body and the dangers that come with being unvaccinated.

Unvaccinated people are able to catch diseases and viruses more easily than vaccinated people, and are able to spread it to those who cannot be immunized. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), community immunity — more commonly known as herd immunity — protects those who cannot be vaccinated by having the vast majority of people in a community vaccinated. Those who are vaccinated cannot transfer the virus to others, resulting in it dying out before it reaches those who cannot be immunized. When there are people who choose not to be vaccinated, it creates more of a risk for them and others to become infected, since the disease can live longer and be more easily transmitted.

People who cannot be immunized generally have weaker immune systems, therefore making them more vulnerable to disease. When a person contracts a disease, their immune system is further weakened, and depending on the severity, it can be life threatening. An article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sets forth a list of vaccines and who should not receive them. This list includes people who have strong allergic reactions, have seizures, are pregnant, or have cancer, HIV, or AIDS. The individuals who cannot be immunized varies for each vaccine, but they all rely on the rest of the community for their safety from disease.

Previously eradicated diseases have been making a comeback in recent years, due mainly to the number of people who are not vaccinated. According to an article by Kristin Miller for PBS NewsHour in 2014, the New York City Department of Health and Canadian officials warned that there had been an outbreak of measles in Manhattan, the Bronx, and British Columbia. In 2013, the number of cases of measles in the United States had tripled. Although 90 percent of Americans are vaccinated, the minority of people who are not vaccinated still cause a hazard to themselves, to the unvaccinated, and sometimes even to those who are immunized. An article written by Bobby Alyn for NPR in May 2019 stated that there have been over 971 cases so far in the US this year alone, breaking a 25-year-old record.

Vaccinated individuals rarely, if ever, have serious side effects from vaccines. According to an article by the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been no evidence that supports the idea that vaccines cause adverse effects on the average child’s immune system. Any harm caused by a vaccine is usually very mild, like a sore arm or mild fever. The rate of serious complications from vaccines range from around one per thousand to one per million doses. Any deaths that could possibly be linked to vaccines are so rare that a statistic is not available. Some people think that the DTP vaccine causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), however this has been disproved many times. After a small number of children died from SIDS after getting the DTP vaccine, many assumed that it had been caused by the vaccine; however, a study in 1980 found that it had merely been chance, and that the DTP vaccine actually decreased the likelihood of SIDS. Overall, even if there are rare cases in which vaccines cause harm, the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

Vaccines also do not show any signs of being linked to developmental disabilities. According to a current article by the CDC, there have been several studies reviewing the possibility of a relationship between vaccine ingredients and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), including one analyzing the amount of antigens from vaccines in the first two years of a child’s life; the amount was the same in children with ASD as in those who did not have ASD. There have also been studies confirming that vaccine ingredients, specifically thimerosal, a mercury-based ingredient found in the flu vaccine to act as a preservative, do not have a proven link to ASD. A scientific review made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2004 found that thimerosal does not cause ASD, nor is there a connection between the MMR vaccine and ASD.

The ingredients in vaccines do not typically cause serious side effects, particularly since they are present in very small doses. The Vaccine Excipient and Media Summary made by the CDC is a list of every vaccine and each of their ingredients, and demonstrates that the ingredients used in vaccines have very little potential to be toxic substances. In fact, only about five out of the 58 vaccines listed contain thimerosal, 26 have formaldehyde, and only one includes aluminum salts. These ingredients have their own purposes in the vaccine – for example, thimerosal, as mentioned before, is a preservative, formaldehyde is used to kill viruses, and aluminum salts are used to stimulate a stronger response from the immune system. All vaccine ingredients are used in miniscule amounts.

Vaccines can offer protection against many diseases, protect those who cannot be immunized, and overall do not cause harmful side effects. Talking with a certified medical professional and asking questions about vaccines is very helpful, and any questions that one may have about vaccines can be answered with scientific certainty. Whether someone is a child, adult, or elder, it is important to remember to be vaccinated in order to keep yourself and those around you safe.

 


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