The Importance of Vaccinating


Taylor Boggs

By Taylor Boggs ’16, Perspectives Section Editor

Although many people believe that vaccinating children and adults is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy society, there are also opponents to vaccination who believe that the drugs result in more bad than good.  While this is a relatively small group in a big country, the decision can have a profound impact on public health.  In the United States today, 48 states allow religious exemptions from vaccines and 20 states allow philosophical exemptions from vaccines.

Namely, the reasons that some decide against vaccination are that some vaccines include toxic ingredients, drugs are tested but the long term affects are often not studied prior to distribution, and despite the amount of vaccines that are distributed to people worldwide, there has still been in increase in cases of ADHD, allergies, autism, and other diseases.  In a study published by Public Health Reports in 2011, of those that either deny or delay vaccines 63% fear serious side effects, 57% have concerns about autism and 78% say that their children get too many shots.  These individuals tend to have a greater general distrust of the medical community than those who choose to vaccinate.

This being said, 96% of people who vaccinate believe that vaccines are necessary to protect public health.  Not only are vaccines safe and effective, they save time and money, arm against contagious diseases, and protect those around you.  People still believe that vaccines are a trigger for autism despite scientific evidence that has been found in studies challenging the stipulation.  People also believe that a healthy diet and clean environment are enough not only to protect you from disease but also to immunize you: this is false.

First, you should administer vaccines to children and adults because despite skeptical beliefs, they are safe and effective.  Vaccines undergo extensive trial-and-error, experimentation, and study before they are distributed to the public.  The drugs are also reviewed by panels of scientists, doctors, and healthcare specialists and have to be approved by the Federal Drug Administration.  After this long process, vaccinations tend to be highly effective.  For example, polio, the most feared disease at the beginning of the 20th century, is no longer a presence in the United States due to the development of the Sabin and Salk vaccines in the 50’s.

However, just because there has not been a polio outbreak in the United States in decades does not mean the disease does not exist in other parts of the world; the contagion is only a plane ride away.  Those who are not vaccinated against the disease can easily bring it back to the United States, thus initiating an outbreak which would be devastating.  The same goes for diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and mumps—there are still cases of these diseases throughout the United States, but they are not nearly as prevalent as they used to be due to new, efficient vaccinations.

Another reason to vaccinate is to protect those around you.  Most vaccinations given to children are for highly dangerous diseases that can be easily transferred from person to person.  Although you do not hear about severe cases of chicken pox and the flu anymore, these are highly contagious diseases that were deadly prior to the development of vaccines.  Without vaccinating yourself, you are putting others at risk of obtaining diseases, even if they are vaccinated.  And for cases of great severity such as infection by yellow fever or ebola, it is likely that those who could harm others would be quarantined for an indefinite period of time if they were not properly protected against the diseases.

Finally, vaccinations more than likely will save you time and money.  Vaccines are a good investment because oftentimes the shots are covered by insurance policies and they last forever if given the necessary boosters.  Children are often denied the right to attend school if they do not have vaccinations protecting against illnesses such as tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis due to the unnecessary risk of potential exposure to the school population.  Plus, vaccinations arm against the most time-consuming and costly infections.  Vaccinating at an early age is superior economically for three reasons: there will be less missed time at work and school, you do not have to pay for extensive medical bills, and (in the case of disabling diseases) it eradicates the expenses of long term disability care.

While many people worry about the amount of drugs being put into our bodies, it is still scientifically proven that is healthier, more economically feasible, and more effective to be vaccinated than to not be.  Healthy diets and environments cannot alone prevent the spread and obtainment of diseases—in fact, some diseases, such as polio, are even more prevalent in sterile environments because children are exposed to germs less often.  Not only are you protecting yourself, but you are also protecting future generations: some diseases such as smallpox do not exist today because of vaccination.  If we continue to vaccinate, some of the more feared sicknesses of today will no longer exist to harm the human race in the future.



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