Author: Tara Moylan, Pima Community College
Vaccines can be the difference between life and death. Imagine losing someone you love from something that could have been prevented with vaccination. Imagine losing your twin brother at the age of 6 years old. Janice Flood Nichols had to grow up without her brother, Frankie. They thought he just had a simple head cold, nothing serious, but the day before Halloween, he could not breathe and went to the hospital. Sixty-one hours after he was admitted to the hospital, he died. A family left to bury their 6-year-old son, a family that is left devastated and confused, a family left to pick up the pieces. No one should have to say goodbye to their child. If Frankie had gotten vaccinated for polio as an infant, this tragedy would have never occurred. Thanks to the groundbreaking work of Jonas Salk, the epidemic of polio has been eradicated from the United States (Schlenoff, 2014).
This same scenario is all too familiar to us now. We all know someone that has lost someone because of the COVID -19 pandemic. According to the CDC, the death toll from COVID-19 has been over 700,000 people ( CDC, 2021). Since the development of the vaccine, some of these deaths were preventable. But, unfortunately, many citizens still do not want to get vaccinated. There is a trend now called the anti-vaccination movement. The basis of the movement is determined by proclamations that vaccinations could be the reason for illness or disorders like autism and that the way vaccines are created is deemed unethical, causing hesitancy in many Americans ( Hussian, 2018).
Vaccination has been very efficient in preventing fatal diseases. If you look at the many creations and inventions of the 20th century, many believe that vaccinations are one of the most significant health developments to date. United Nations Foundation partner organization, Shot Life, states that “vaccines save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases every year which equates to roughly 285 children saved every hour (Doheny)”. Another credible source, the Centers for Disease Control affirms that, “an estimated 732,000 American children were saved from death and 322 million cases of childhood illnesses were prevented between 1994 and 2014 due to vaccination” ( CDC, 2014).
Herd immunity is crucial for those who cannot get immunizations because of medical reasons. Adults and children who are unable to get the inoculation due to being elderly, poor health, and immune-compromised like HIV, chemotherapy, or transplant patients depend on herd immunity to prevent them from contracting diseases that could be prevented by immunization (Weinreb, 2011). In 1998 an example of herd immunity happened, forty eight children required to be quarantined during a measles outbreak because they were too young to be vaccinated. Sugerman, 2008). This is a situation we all know too well know because of the COVID vaccine and how children are too young to receive it still and there is a debate for and against this vaccine. The outbreak in San Diego could have been prevented, and outbreaks now could be prevented. These poor children rely on herd immunity, and if the public met the herd immunity threshold for the disease, there would not have been an outbreak.
Vaccines supply economic advantages for society. Money is saved every year because we do not have to give treatment costs. After all, they were vaccinated instead of getting a disease. The CDC calculates that “children vaccinated between 1994 and 2014 have provided net savings of $ 1.38 trillion in societal costs, including money saved by preventing lost productivity due to disability or early death ( Gholipour, 2014).” Prevention of illness and health promotion is one of the main goals the medical field tries to achieve, keeping people healthy and out of hospitals is the main goal and saves you money. UNICEF states that “an estimation of $6.2 billion could be saved if vaccines were more prominent in the world’s poorest countries” ( Herper, 2014).
Vaccinations have proven to be safe. There are no peer reviewed and scholarly articles that indicate that there is a connection to disorders and vaccines. Also reputable medical and health organizations have stated that vaccines are safe. Reactions to vaccines are rare. The US Department of Health and Human Services says, “Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are some of the safest products available.”
According to the Anti-Vaxx movement, vaccines can cause severe and sometimes fatal side effects, like seizures, paralysis, and death. However, adverse reactions to vaccines are infrequent. The most common side effect of vaccines is anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction). Anaphylaxis happens one per several hundred thousand to one per million vaccinations ( Dohenny). Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN said, “you are 100 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine that protects you against measles” ( Sugerman, 2008).
There is another belief that vaccines contain harmful ingredients. Vaccines are unnatural, carry ingredients. Some people think they are immoral. The amounts used in components in vaccines are safe. In large doses, ingredients like formaldehyde, aluminum, and thimerosal can be harmful, but that is not the case when put into a vaccine. Children are exposed to more aluminum in breast milk and infant formula than to aluminum in vaccines ( Heyworth). We do not find breast milk harmful to our children, so why isn’t it acceptable for vaccines to have these compounds. Children are vulnerable to many potentially dangerous things during a typical day . Have you ever stepped foot in a daycare center or a school? Children are exposed bacteria, viruses and other things you can’t even imagine just from being at school. Therefore, it is vital to give these children extra protection with vaccines.
We must save the people that will come after us. We have an obligation to protect our children. As a former educator and future nurse, I beg you to think of the future. Facts have backed vaccination safety and effectiveness. There is a reason that immunization has been given the title of ‘The Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century (CDC, 2014). It has been vital for a community to prevent them from getting deadly diseases. Thanks to scientific research, we know that immunizing them is not only safe but also suitable for families and the population. We can sleep soundly knowing that vaccines help prevent diseases in children. The reduction in mortality over the past century due to routine childhood immunizations is quite dramatic. There is more risk than harm without vaccines than with them. There should be no chances you are willing to take. No lives are worth the risk. Base your decisions on scientific facts. It is a matter of life and death. To the parents who wonder about this choice, please say yes and protect your sons and daughters. Some parents did not have vaccination as an option and now have to cope with the loss of their children. Nothing can bring back a lost loved one once they are taken away, no matter how much we wished we could have made a different choice. Watching our youth suffer is awful, but knowing that you could have prevented it, is much worse. Immunization protects the public, it protects the future, protects our children.
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