Parents refuse to vaccinate children

Insight or idiocy?

Meera Mani, Opinions Editor

Before the invention of vaccines, millions of people died from diseases that are now preventable- polio, diphtheria, typhoid, whooping cough, and many more. Doctors and scientists spent many years developing these life saving vaccines that are responsible for the quality of life that most of us now enjoy. The fact that parents refuse to vaccinate their children is pure idiocy. This decision puts the child themselves at risk, as well as all children around them.

The recent measles outbreak of measles in Arizona has fueled a heated vaccine debate. According to the World Health Organization, measles is the biggest child killer, and in 2013, there were 145,700 measles deaths globally  which is about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour. Due to the refusal of parents to vaccinate, ancient illnesses such as measles are coming back.

As great as these vaccines are, they are not risk free. There is the potential for harmful effects in some people, although it is very rare. According to the CDC, most common side effects are minor things such as a sore arm or a mild fever.

Non-vaccinating parents are arguing that vaccines can cause diseases such as autism. These parents need to start trusting doctors, not their own ridiculous logic.

The refusal also negates the principle of herd immunity- a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. This means that if most of the population is vaccinated, it provides safety and protection for the group as a whole, and for the unvaccinated. It is also known as “community immunity.” But, if the number of vaccinated isn’t the majority, herd immunity cannot occur.

According to CNN, “The scientific and medical consensus is clear: Vaccinations are safe, and they work.”

What is not safe, however, is the damaging onslaught of too many vaccines at one time. Usually, babies are vaccinated at different periods- 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and so on. This is typically more than one vaccine at a time. Sometimes, these vaccines can result in fevers, which can be very damaging to a child’s developing brain, and can cause cognitive problems later on.

According to UNICEF, as a result of direct immunization, polio is on the verge of being eradicated. Deaths from measles declined by 71 percent worldwide and by 80 percent in sub-Saharan Africa between 2000 and 2011. Also, 35 of 59 priority countries have eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus.

With most of these harmful diseases that plagued generations before us eradicated, people are not exposed to the same risk as before. Therefore, with the risk of contracting diseases so low, the risk of an adverse effect from the vaccine seems to be high. Thus people are now wanting to avoid vaccines altogether.

This is a very bad idea because if the number of unvaccinated people increases significantly, then the diseases we didn’t have to worry about anymore will come back- and so will death and suffering return once more.

Vaccinations are absolutely necessary for the safety and health of our country, and parents should be responsible for ensuring their child’s health. Vaccines need to be made as safe as possible and until an alternative treatment is found, parents shouldn’t object to the use of vaccines.