Ignoring vaccines puts others at risk

By Aaron Clark

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For everyone who believes Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, you may want to skip this article. The California Department of Public Health recently released a figure stating that 123 people have now been infected with measles, and 75 of the reported cases come from people who either visited or worked at Disneyland. The California population is not the only one in jeopardy — the department estimates that the Disneyland epidemic has been linked to more than two-dozen cases that have reached six states. The measles outbreak has even ventured into Mexico and Canada.

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Modern vaccines have the potential to control measles to the point where the disease is almost eradicated. Unfortunately, this is not the first case of highly controllable diseases running rampant. Just a few months ago, Salt Lake City experienced its own vaccination catastrophe. East High School faced an outbreak of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Both measles and pertussis are easily prevented by vaccinations, so how are people becoming infected with these diseases? The answer is simple — they aren’t getting vaccinations.

Currently, all 50 states require vaccinations before children can enter the public school system, but there are exemptions for personal, religious and medicinal reasons. Some parents are hesitant to give their children vaccinations because vaccines can sometimes cause serious side effects. Adverse effects in response to vaccination can range from mild symptoms, like swelling and soreness around the injection site, to seizures and death. However, when the lives saved by vaccines and the number of lives vaccines have harmed are compared, statistics show vaccinations are overall very beneficial to a society. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that between the years of 1994 and 2014, 732,000 children’s lives were saved because of vaccines and 322 million instances of childhood illness were prevented. During the years of development and growth, children have especially vulnerable immune systems that are sometimes incapable of fighting off illness and disease. By creating improved immunity, diseases can be rid entirely from a population. Polio was once a huge threat to the health of the younger population in the United States, but through increased vaccination, the disease has been eradicated.

Though vaccines have caused serious health issues in children, these adverse effects are extremely rare. Every year, 30,000 cases of negative reactions to vaccinations are reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, with only 10-15 percent of those cases being classified as serious, which means that the individual was left with a permanent disability, life-threatening illness, hospitalization or death.

All of the 75 people who now have measles and all of the students at East High School who got pertussis were in serious health situations. When the facts and statistics are viewed objectively, it is obvious that vaccinations save lives. They are one of the most important innovations in medicine and have allowed for generation after generation to live, evolve and thrive. A small percentage of people who choose to ignore the benefits of vaccines has the potential to put an entire population at risk. People may have the freedom to not vaccinate their children, but their negligence does not come without a cost. Let’s just hope Disney princesses are immune to measles.

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