Vaccines, Fear Mongering and Misinformation

vaccines

Although the overwhelming majority of people accept vaccinations to be a positive and necessary aspect of good healthcare, there are more than a few cases of those believing the spread of vaccine misinformation, not fully understanding the potential harm they are causing by not vaccinating themselves and those under their care.

The percentage of people who have faith in vaccines has decreased over 10% in the last 10 years. Outbreaks of diseases such as the measles are spreading, and diseases that haven’t been seen in the United States such as tetanus are resurfacing.

Washington state has been taking a hit in recent years when it comes to preventable diseases. Since the start of 2019, 50 out of the 79 cases of measles reported to the CDC have occurred in Washington. As a curable and easily preventable disease, the measles outbreak was unexpected and the CDC has dedicated articles of information for parents and caregivers hoping to encourage people to get vaccinated.

If a person is infected with measles, 90% of people around them will also get infected, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends that a child get the first shot of the MMRV vaccine which protects against Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Chickenpox between 12 and 15 months of age.

The protection from vaccines doesn’t just come from the vaccination itself, vaccinations provide “herd immunity”. The idea behind herd immunity is that since the overwhelming majority of the population is protected against a certain disease, it protects those cannot get vaccinations because then the virus will die out. If the virus has no host, it won’t survive.

Herd immunity is crucial for those who cannot get vaccinations due to health reasons or for children too young to get them – the ones who are at most risk when contracting these type of infections.

When you’re deciding not to vaccinate yourself or someone in your care, you’re not just making a decision for yourself. You’re making a decision for every other person at school, the playground, at church, or in your house that cannot be fully protected.

A boy in Oregon was playing on his farm when he got a cut on his forehead. Soon after, he started having trouble breathing and involuntary muscle spasms. When doctors inspected him, they discovered he had contracted tetanus – a disease thought to be eradicated in the U.S and hadn’t been seen for thirty years.

“Tetanus occurs almost exclusively among persons who are unvaccinated, inadequately vaccinated, or in those whose vaccination histories are unknown or uncertain,” the CDC reported.

The boy who was diagnosed with tetanus spent 57 days in agony and his treatment cost about $800,000, according to the New York Times article. The 2011 measles outbreak cost the United States between $2.7 million and $5.3 million. Not getting a $90 vaccine costs you and the government an unimaginable sum, let alone the innocent lives at risk.

There is a wide variety of reasons why people refuse to vaccinate, but the four main categories are religious doctrine, philosophical beliefs, safety concerns, and wanting more information from healthcare providers, according to a study published by NCBI.

According to the study, 2010 and 2011, there was such a significant increase in the percentage of schools permitting vaccination exemptions that lawmakers had to get involved and mandate that caregivers needed to prove their “genuine and sincere religious belief.” The largest concerns are the gelatin derived from animals in most vaccinations and fetus tissue that is used in the rubella vaccination.

Although there is no desire to force people to do something against their religious beliefs, caregivers need to consider the risk of not protecting the people under their care against harmful and potentially deadly diseases. They are not only making a decision for themselves, but are forcing others to remain in a dangerous environment.

The second reason people are against vaccinations is philosophical or personal beliefs. This usually presents itself in caregivers believing that it is beneficial for their children to contract certain diseases. The wife of the White House communications director is vocal about her belief that she got these type of illnesses as a child and is actually better for it.

In 2014, there were 573 deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases. In 1991, there were 1122 according to the CDC. Vaccinations prevent unnecessary death. Getting mumps, or measles, or rubella as a child is deadly. Is not vaccinating your child worth the risk?

The most frustrating reason is misinformation about vaccines and safety concerns from parents. Although safety and side effects are very real concerns, the truth is most of these parents get information from unreliable sources or word of mouth. They get their information from fear-mongers rather than reputable organizations such as the CDC.

The study that linked vaccinations to autism has not only been discredited, the data proven to be false, but the scientists were found to have financial motives behind their study and were prosecuted for fraud.

There is no link between autism or behavioral issues and vaccination.

The only side effects to vaccinations could be a mild fever, small rash, swelling at the sight of the injection, or teens and adults might experience stiffness at the joints, according to the CDC.

It’s important to get all the information and do research when considering the health of your child. Those who oppose vaccines do not do it out of malice for their child’s health – most often it’s because of love and fear for their safety.

Putting your faith in untrustworthy sources and fear-mongers does not benefit anyone and leaves your family and the rest of the community at risk. When you are making this choice for yourself or someone in your care, you are making a choice for everyone around you.