Anti-vaxxer trend is an epidemic all its own

Anti-vaxxer trend is an epidemic all its own

Signy Mastel, Editor-In-Chief

Vaccinations are quite possibly humankind’s best invention. They have saved millions of lives over the last 200 or so years. They are so effective that they have become commonplace in today’s society and are regarded as necessary health measures. But, ever since 20 years ago when a rigged study falsely linked autism to the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, many people have joined the “anti-vaxxers” movement, and thus have stopped getting themselves and their children vaccinated. This dangerous trend compromises the health of not only anti-vaxxers, but also the people around them, and, in some cases, has even caused death.

Andrew Wakefield, a discredited former British doctor, conducted a very suspicious study on a supposed link between vaccines and autism in 1998. The sample size was incredibly small, with only 12 people, and after Wakefield published his study “proving” that the MMR vaccine caused autism, it was discovered that he falsified his data.
The paper was immediately retracted and Dr. Wakefield’s medical license was revoked, but the damage was already done.

Even though dozens of studies have been performed since and no other researcher has been able to find even a small link between vaccinations and autism, people everywhere are crediting the rising rates of autism to vaccinations.
Now, due to fearful parents and paranoid adults, vaccination rates have lowered and the general population is at risk.
Many argue that it doesn’t matter to society whether people get vaccinated or not, because it doesn’t harm those around the non-vaccinated individuals, but this is not true. Vaccines, being a preventative measure, have a wonderful effect called herd immunity.

Herd immunity happens when a large enough portion of the population becomes immune to a disease and becomes able to break the chain of an infection’s transmission. In simple terms, this means that if enough people are immune to a disease, the disease will not be able to spread because it won’t be able to find a susceptible person.
Herd immunity is what protects those who are unable to get the vaccinations due to other reasons, such as age or medical conditions.

Basically, vaccines protect both the vaccinated person, and the rest of the populace as well. But, if healthy people who are able to get the vaccine choose not to, this increases the at-risk portion of the population, giving diseases more opportunity to spread. This puts the groups who are unable to be vaccinated at significantly higher risk. And this group isn’t just comprised of those who are allergic to vaccines, it includes the elderly, small children and newborns, and pregnant women.

Due to the decrease in herd immunity which has come from the anti-vaxxers movement, many diseases which were thought to have been almost entirely eliminated have made a comeback. Just of few of these diseases are chicken pox, whooping cough, polio, mumps, and, perhaps most alarmingly, measles. All of these diseases can and have caused death, and all of these diseases are easily preventable, yet due to anti-vaxxers, they are making a n unprecedented comeback.

But anti-vaxxers aren’t just foolish, they actually showcase a much more serious prejudice that is all too common in our society. The anti-vaxxer movement shows just how prevalent the hatred and fear of autism is, even today. Anti-vaxxer parents are basically saying that they would rather have a child who is dead than a child who is autistic.
They allow their fear to overcome their rationality, and they allow themselves to be convinced that autsim, a disorder determined before birth, can be affected by one of the most lifesaving inventions in human history.

Overall, the anti-vaccination movement is nothing more than a bunch of hoopla. The entire premise of the movement has been proven multiple times to be incorrect, it puts other people at risk, and it is causing the return of many diseases which were thought to have been eliminated. So, if you are an anti-vaxxer, I sincerely hope that you will come to your senses and get yourself and your children vaccinated. If you don’t, then I just have one question. How can you convince yourself that choosing not to get vaccinated is okay? How, knowing that you are helping to cause the deaths of innocent men, women, and children who don’t have the option of getting vaccinated? Please reconsider and look at the facts. Get vaccinated, if not for your sake, then for those who don’t have that choice.