Vaccines: Protection… or Poison?

Kaylee Paranczak

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If you’ve read the news lately, an important topic of the last few months is the rapid outbreak of the previously cured Measles disease in highly populated cities, such as New York. What could have caused the greatest outbreak our country has seen since 1992? The answer: refusing to vaccinate. 

The spread of the dangerous respiratory disease through the unvaccinated population hurts not only the individuals themselves but the entire community. I understand parents’ hesitation to vaccinate when thousands of different sources both across the internet and on social media shed a negative light on the potentially life-saving medicine. However, a plethora of unreliable information should not stop parents from asking the doctors themselves about the side effects of certain vaccines. 

In the United States there are certain immunizations that are mandatory for the public to participate in specific activities, such as swimming in pools. There is a fine line that the government must notice between the rights of individuals and protection of the public. Unvaccinated individuals put not only themselves at risk, but also people who cannot be vaccinated due to certain medical issues or, in some cases, the entire population. Immunizations are not always 100% effective so with exposure to infected citizens, a disease could harm anyone. 

The two main reasons children go unvaccinated are for religious reasons and mistrust of the medicine. As for the religious aspect, some communities believe that the body is sacred and should be healed simply by nature and God. For these people, the idea of vaccines means putting unnecessary chemicals in our bodies when praying could be just as, if not more, beneficial. In the mind of allowing religious freedom, the government has allowed many individuals across the majority of states to be exempt from vaccinating for religious purposes. However, the controversial issue of allowing exemption from vaccines seems to be threatening herd immunity, or population resistance from enough vaccinations, especially as seen from the recent measles outbreak.  Although the possibility of contracting the diseases that vaccines prevent has a low probability, why leave the chances up to fate?