The importance of vaccination in a modern age

Vaccination has without a doubt saved lives, but has also started unneeded conflicts.

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Vaccination has without a doubt saved lives, but has also started unneeded conflicts.

Colt Beat, Memorial Staff Writer

Although the practice of vaccinology can be dated back hundreds of years, the first innovative and developed vaccination was created by Edward Jenner in 1796, when he proved that injecting individuals with cowpox showed an immunity to the smallpox virus. Since then, countless vaccinations have been created, most notably for polio, mumps, tetanus, hepatitis and influenza.  Over the years, controversy concerning vaccinations was born.

It’s undeniable that vaccines save lives as it is estimated that the current vaccinations available prevent anywhere from 2-3 million deaths a year, with an additional possible 1.5 million lives saved worldwide if vaccination access was improved. So, with the benefit of protecting lives, why are people so against the idea?

Those who are “anti-vaxxers” most likely object because it may violate individuals’ rights or have the potential to have negative effects on one’s health. However, there have been multiple studies that disprove the notion that vaccines cause further illness or harm. Despite this, parents in particular seem to always point to one debunked theory: vaccination causes autism.

This false finding came from a study published by Andrew Wakefield in 1997, where he connected the MMR vaccine, which prevents mumps, measles and rubella, to cause autism. Since then, Wakefield’s medical license has been terminated, and the article has since been discredited due to “ethical violations” and “procedural errors.”

Furthermore, an article published by the New England Journal of Medicine shows that the psychological disorder develops in utero, specifically in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, far before birth.    Even if there was an increased chance of developing autism due to vaccination, having an autistic child is a favorable situation compared to having a child that is vulnerable to diseases that can cause lifelong damage or even death.

The effect of parents choosing to not vaccinate their children is responsible for the reemergence of previously eradicated diseases. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared that vaccination technology had contributed to the elimination of measles. Fast forward 14 years, the CDC reported its highest number of measles cases, which were around 667 diagnoses.

In the wake of this outbreak, the advocacy group Autism Speaks made a statement that encouraged children to be vaccinated, in addition to explicitly expressing that researchers have proved time and time again that there is no link between autism and vaccines.

The benefits of vaccination far outweigh any possible negatives. Vaccination doesn’t just help the person receiving the immunizations, it protects future generations and others who are impotent to them.

Individuals with weakened immune systems or severe allergies to immunization components are among those, along with newborn babies, who cannot physically handle the vaccination process. In this case, parents who choose to vaccinate are wise, as they help contribute to prevent further harm from easily preventable diseases.


Contact Colt Beat at [email protected]