Vaccinate Your Kids

The development and use of vaccines against diseases has dramatically decreased, or even eradicated, the number of cases seen throughout the world. Immunization does not just protect your health; it is necessary for the protection of society. It is the duty of a responsible global citizen to be immunized so one does not put the lives of others at risk.

Diphtheria. Rubella. Measles. Hepatitis A and B. While the rates of these diseases are significantly lower in the United States compared to other countries, disease itself has not disappeared. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smallpox is the only disease that has been eliminated from the global population. In the same report, it was recorded that “more than 350,000 cases of measles were reported from around the world in 2011,” with 90 percent of the cases reported in the U.S. the same year having origins in other countries.

“If one or two cases of disease are introduced into a community where most people are not vaccinated, outbreaks will occur,” the CDC said in a statement published online. “If vaccination rates dropped to low levels nationally, diseases could become as common as they were before vaccines.”

This statement illustrates the necessity of vaccines not just for oneself, but for society. If an entire population has been vaccinated, there is a lesser chance the disease will spread because it cannot successfully infect an immunized body. If a disease does enter a community, those who are not immunized will prolong the lifespan of the illness in a concentrated area by being the only citizens affected. Without vaccines, the world would face an onslaught of diseases once thought to be eliminated and would continue to see millions of deaths worldwide.

Though the statistics surrounding the proactive use of vaccines in society are staggering, reported cases of polio as of 2013 have decreased by 99 percent worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Antibiotics in vaccines have caused controversy  according to an article on vaccine ingredients from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The concern is if the antibiotics present in the vaccine will cause severe allergic reactions in people. However, the antibiotics that commonly cause allergic reactions in patients (penicillin and sulfa drugs) are not found in vaccines, the hospital said.

“These small quantities of antibiotics have never been clearly found to cause severe allergic reactions. Therefore, the possibility that the trace quantities of antibiotics contained in vaccines cause severe allergic reactions remains, at best, theoretical,” the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said in a statement published on their website.

Theresa Rogers, an assistant professor of biology at California Lutheran University, said the misuse of antibiotics outside of the vaccine injection could contribute to the lack of correct education on immunizations because it creates a false sense of instant gratification that the patients are not ill.

Rogers said improper use of antibiotics, such as taking them for a viral infection, will “kill off a lot of the beneficial bacteria found on your body and in your gut system,” causing overall health to “reduce and make you more susceptible to other infections.”

We cannot criticize vaccines for containing unsafe or unnatural ingredients when they are being discussed out of context, and while the misuse of antibiotics is still prevalent. As medical research makes leaps and bounds in its journey to defeating diseases such as AIDS and malaria, it is imperative that society work toward protecting the health and longevity of future generations by being immunized and routinely receiving vaccinations.

Immunization is important so long as there is disease in the world. If we elect to discontinue vaccinations on the basis of theories that have since been disproved by medical research, we are consciously electing to let disease run rampant through populations that are able to be saved with a simple injection. We will have decided the fate of the global population and undone decades of medical progress in the battle against this not-so-silent killer.

Olivia Schouten