Opinion: parents who don’t vaccinate children are endangering lives
Ignorance is bliss, but it’s also immensely dangerous. Such is the case with parents throughout America who, for one reason or another, choose not to vaccinate their children. Before you throw your arms up in the air and wonder what stake I, or anyone at the Univeristy at Albany has in the matter, know that parents who don’t vaccinate their children are not only endangering their kids’ lives, but also the lives of everyone around them.
As long as you’d rather not have deadly, highly contagious and largely eradicated illnesses such as Polio, Smallpox or the Measles, this is an issue for you as much as anyone. Contrary to popular belief, someone who has been vaccinated can contract a disease they’ve been previously protected against from someone who has not. Is that not scary?
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: in no way, shape or form do vaccines cause Autism. The one, single study that reached those conclusions has been proven to be the product of sloppy science, doctored results and faulty experimenting. The man, not doctor, who originally published that research, Andrew Wakefield, was stripped of his medical license for fudging his findings as well as ethical problems. He is in no way credible and shouldn’t be treated as such.
To be fair, the overwhelming majority of parents are doing the responsible and safe thing by vaccinating their children. But that small outlier is what could prove to be a real problem. Not only are their children at greater risk, but so is every other child they come in contact with. That’s why schools (as well as colleges) mandate vaccinations. Infected students eventually go home and can affect parents. Parents then go to work and infect the population at large. Sounds like a movie now, doesn’t it?
Because rational people don’t listen to junk science, supporters of Wakefield and McCarthy have begun to use a different argument, saying that this is a free choice matter. True enough, in most places it isn’t mandatory to immunize your children. You can choose not to. You can also choose to walk around campus in your underwear during the dead of winter. But, like choosing not to vaccinate, that decision will end badly. The presence of choice doesn’t mean both options are inherently equal; it just means they exist.
Herd immunity describes a species’ collective resistance to certain diseases. This is a major aspect of human survival which can vary from society to society and have major ramifications. The Spanish conquistadors brought diseases to the New World that virtually wiped out millions of native peoples ― much more than the guns and horses they ferried from Europe.
Herd immunity can also mean the preservation or destruction of large populations of humans. The thing is, when even one out of ten people, the rate of parents who delay or skip shots in America, have a compromised immunity, it can drastically affect the entire population’s Herd immunity. And the number of unvaccinated people is rising in many states and that is a horrifying prospect.
This is part of a much larger problem that is plaguing the internet-heavy world. People are feeling too comfortable ignoring hard facts from experts and professionals and accepting inaccurate information from unreliable sources simply because it fits into their preconceived opinions. But, unlike modern politics, this vital science is in no way subjective and fact cannot be mistaken for opinion. People’s lives are most certainly at stake.