Vaccinations: debate long over for science

by | Feb 6, 2015 | Opinion

Shaneza Subhan

Life Editor


The debate over whether or not you should vaccinate your child has been going on far too long. The reality is, you should be getting your child vaccinated. In fact, it should be mandatory.

“Today, vaccines have an excellent safety record and most ‘vaccine scares’ have been shown to be false alarms,” according to The World Health Organization (WHO).

The fact is that vaccines were designed to stop infections and it’s crucial to get your children immunized. We don’t need a massive epidemic to open our eyes to the importance of immunization. What some people don’t seem to understand is infectious diseases can be just as harmful as getting long term illneses. They spread like wildfire, jumping from one person to another until hundreds of  people are infected. Disneyland’s recent outbreak of measles has been an eye-opener for many people.

Vaccines are for the vast portion of recipients harmless, effective and have undergone years of research and development in order to ensure safety. They have saved approximately nine million lives a year worldwide, according to UNICEF. Both UNICEF and WHO concluded that up to this point, smallpox is the only disease that’s been eradicated by vaccines. Eradicating polio, already enormously diminished since previous generations, is the next goal.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention outlines that nearly everyone in the U.S. got measles before there was a vaccine and hundreds died from it each year.

“More than 15,000 Americans died from diphtheria in 1921 before a vaccine was invented and only one case has been reported to CDC since 2004,” according to a CDC document.

An epidemic of rubella in 1964-1965 infected almost 13 million Americans, taking the lives of 2,000 babies and causing 11,000 miscarriages. In 2012, nine cases of Rubella were reported to the CDC.

Some vaccines are designed to help fight multiple diseases with only one shot. Measles, mumps and rubella are all combined into a single MMR vaccine.

Yet current controversies surrounding a supposed link between vaccines and developmental disorders make it clear that we must again affirm that the number of infectious outbreaks that can and have been prevented definitely outweighs the possible side effects of vaccines; and some of these side effects have even been debunked.

British medical researcher Andrew Wakefield, who did part of his studies at University of Toronto, published a study in 1998 that wrongly linked MMR vaccinations to autism. While Wakefield’s work was ultimately found to be fraudulent and spurred by a financial conflict of interest, resulting in his medical license being revoked, his account created the beginnings of a new anti-vaccine movement.

When actress Jenny McCarthy blamed vaccines on her 11-year-old son’s autism diagnosis in 2005, that movement gained a surge of popular traction, particularly in North America.

McCarthy claimed in an op-ed column that she is not anti-vaccine by saying for years she has stated that she is “pro-vaccine” and that for years, she has been wrongly branded as “anti-vaccine.”

“I believe in the importance of a vaccine program and I believe parents have the right to choose one poke per visit. I’ve never told anyone not to vaccinate,” she said.

Nonetheless, McCarthy’s campaigning on the basis of her child’s experience is thought to have dissuaded thousands of families from vaccinating their children, with claims that many deaths have resulted.

And yet, some people still believe vaccines cause more harm than good.

If you had a chance to prevent your child from getting a terminal illness simply from the prick of a needle, would you stick to an uninformed or debunked argument and decide against it?

Looking at the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, how many people in the middle of the epidemic would say no to a vaccination that would prevent them contracting the deadly virus?

People who don’t vaccinate put the burden of the act on everyone else. Vaccination depends on ‘herd immunity’ or it doesn’t work.

Before jumping to the conclusion of whether or not you should consider vaccines, do some research, get your questions answered and be well informed of how effective they are — and keep in mind how many lives were saved due to vaccinations.