The Case For Shots

The development of vaccines is considered one of the greatest advances of medicine due to the enormous benefits to populations throughout the world.

For example, smallpox is estimated to have killed up to 300 million people in the 20th century .

It was not until 1980 that the World Health Organization declared that this deadly disease had finally been eradicated because of government mandated vaccination laws.

Vaccination also seemed to have conquered one of the most infectious viruses known … that of measles. There were no cases of the disease in the year 2000 in the U.S., and it was hoped that it too would no longer be the cause of deaths in children. Before 1968, when the improved measles vaccine was licensed, there had been 500 deaths per year from measles as well as 1,000 cases of encephalitis (brain swelling).

This hope was sadly dashed as a British doctor made the false claim the vaccine caused autism in children. Although it was proven in 2011 that his claim was fraudulent, the damage had been done ,and some parents decided not to vaccinate their children.

It is understandable that parents want the best for their kids, but in this case they were duped. The internet didn’t help. Spreading fear, there were blogs that falsely claimed vaccines to be ” toxic”, “unnatural” or inherently dangerous. These deceitful and dishonest blogs had an effect on parents, particularly those who did not understand the science behind vaccines.

Now we see the unfortunate effects of this anti-vaccination propaganda. We currently have the worst outbreak of measles seen in the last 20 years. The children who are affected have, for the most part, not been vaccinated or have had only one dose of the vaccine, which should be administered in two doses.

“The measles virus will always find unvaccinated children,” says Henrietta Flores, Director of UNICEF.

That agency cites various causes for the global outbreak: lack of access to the vaccine, poor health care, and fear of vaccines by the anti-vaccers .

Simon Stevens, The Director of the British National Health Service calls the rejection of vaccines “A serious and growing public health time bomb.”

If the rates of vaccinated populations fall below a certain threshold, called a herd immunity threshold, the threat of the disease’s spreading increases.

Therefore, it is good citizenship for people to be vaccinated. Those who claim that it is their individual right to decline are not being responsible. There are rules established for the greatest good for the greatest number in society that we all have to live by, such as speed limits for cars or not smoking in public places.

Thus, it only makes good sense that except for the few people who cannot be vaccinated because of age or certain health conditions, all people should be vaccinated.

Even President Trump, because of the severity of the recent measles outbreak, has come around to this position and is urging people to get their shots.

Renate Bob is a Jamestown resident.