Where I live in South Korea, everyone has a scar on their arm from their Smallpox vaccination. Vaccines are mandatory because it is a matter of public health, and no one wants to get sick and die.
Back in my home country of the USA, for some reason, there is a movement against vaccines.
Now, I read into it a lot so that I could try to understand their point of view. It seems to me that there are a few reasons for this movement:
1. A Debunked Study: A doctor who has now had his license taken away published a study in 1998 claiming that vaccines were linked to Autism.
2. Anecdotal Evidence: Symptoms of developmental disorders present around the same time as when children are vaccinated.
3. Bunk Science: Many people simply don’t understand how vaccines work, and so they think that the chemicals used in vaccines can be dangerous.
So let’s take this one point at a time.
First, Mr Lancet, who is no longer a doctor, manipulated his study to make it look as though vaccines caused Autism. Now, Autism is a real thing and we do have a serious problem in our society with a variety of developmental disorders. But this doctor went out of his way to manipulate evidence in order to make false claims, and every study since then has proven that vaccines actually don’t cause Autism.
Now, something does. The variety of problems with delayed development in children now rivals the problems we had when gasoline was made with lead because we didn’t know it would poison our children and cause mental handicaps.
If we could stop focusing on vaccines and start looking for the actual cause (chemicals in food and in the environment, perhaps?) then we might be able to find out what the actual culprit is and stop children from being exposed to it. Anyone who has a child with developmental disorders should consider this a priority.
Second, there is a correlation (but not a causation) because vaccines are meant to be administered around the same time as developmental disabilities are diagnosed. This is just a coincidence that occurs because vaccines should be given when children are young, but developmental problems also become apparent while a child is young.
The two things may be unrelated, but for a parent looking for someone to blame, it’s easy to see why they turn on the very thing that can prevent their child having further problems.
Obviously it’s likely that exposure to chemicals is actually the problem, and so it is more than likely something the mother ate or came in contact with. That’s a horrible thing for a parent to think. They don’t want to be responsible for a thing that causes suffering for themselves and their offspring. But the thing is: they are not responsible because we don’t yet know what chemicals are to blame. Did she lay down in a field that had just been sprayed for bugs? Did she eat a food that has some preservative that is to blame? We don’t yet know. And so the focus should be on finding out, not on looking for a place to play blame.
And third, there is actually just a lack of knowledge about what a vaccine is and how it works. Some of the anti-vaxx folks I talked to didn’t even know that you couldn’t get a disease from the vaccine. I assume this is because historically, you could get a disease from a vaccine. When we first began inoculating people against Smallpox, it was by using soars from patients who died of the disease. If the soars were old and the disease was dead, out immune system could still recognize the shape of the cells and create an antibody. But if the tissue form the soars was fresher, some of the cells might still be alive, and so there was a chance that you could get the disease from the vaccine.
These days, we don’t use tissue from the soars of the dead. We use dead or denatured cells. You can not get sick from modern vaccines.
I also think they don’t understand the solution the cells are held in. There can be trace amounts of chemicals in some of them, but these trace amounts are far less than what could ever harm anyone.
Basically, vaccines are a very safe way to prevent disease.
I am actually too old to have gotten the chicken pox vaccines, and I am pretty sad about that. That’s because the chicken pox vaccines also prevents you from having a similar and more painful disease, Shingles. Now, you may think that I have a long time until I have to worry about Shingles because only old people get it, but that’s not true anymore. My friend here got it while she was back home in Colorado, and she is only 26. It’s becoming more common in younger people. It’s very painful and really horrible, and I am at risk of getting it because doctors won’t give you the Shingles vaccine until you are older (as regulations have not caught up with the fact that younger people are now getting it.)
Just to come to Korea, I did get a whole bunch of vaccines that were recommended, including Smallpox (not standard anymore in the USA even though it still is in many other countries.)
I was really glad to get these vaccines because they will protect me from the horrible diseases that they are designed to prevent.
So my point is: Doctors have put a lot of time and effort into developing safe vaccines. Some of them do have side effects (my arm was really sore for awhile after the Tetanus shot.) But these side effects are well worth it in the long run, because Tetanus is a horrible disease that can kill you. A little pain for and soreness for a day or two is well worth not getting it.
The point is, vaccines should be mandatory in the US like they are here. The fact is, if someone gets a horrible disease, we all bear the burden of that. As a society, we should always be trying to prevent any in our number from getting sick and dying. It just makes sense.