Lack of critical thinking in the anti-vaxxer movement could be costing us our lives

While many understand the benefits of vaccinating their children against harmful diseases such as whooping cough, measles and mumps, recently the medical community has been faced with parents who refuse to vaccinate due to uncertainty in the safety or effectiveness of these shots. Many of the concerns brought forward by parents and celebrities, such as Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, who spearhead the movement are based off of the assumption that vaccines contain harmful chemicals that may lead to impairment or autism in their children.
Other more moderate concerns are related to the content of the vaccines, which have in the past contained aluminum or lead, which have been shown to have harmful effects on the body.
The important thing to remember about the anti-vaxxer movement is that it is in no way backed by science. Most of the “studies” that those involved in the campaign against vaccines cite are either outdated or pseudoscience.
They also have cross-over between other faith healing practices, such as using crystals or psychic power for healing. Some even believe that vaccines may interfere with their child’s spiritual abilities, such as telepathy or psychic abilities. Allowing pseudoscience into our modern health systems is having a detrimental effect on the overall health of our country, and the world.
The term “herd immunity” refers to what happens when everyone who is able to get their vaccines follows the recommended schedule and in turn creates a safety net for those who have compromised immune systems, or babies who are too young to receive the protection that vaccines provide. Herd immunity is what eventually leads to eradication of diseases and without it our societies become much more susceptible to outbreaks of easily preventable illness.
We have seen this happening all throughout the United States in recent years. Despite warnings from public health officials there is a growing number of children who are going unvaccinated. Although measles was declared eradicated from the country in 2000, the lack of vaccination combined with travel has caused the number of cases to surge in the US. In 2014 there were a reported 668 cases in 27 different states. Measles has no cure, however it is easily preventable by vaccination.
Those who subscribe to the anti-vaxxer movement are doing their communities a great injustice by opening them up to harm caused by preventable diseases. They are putting not only their children, but other people’s children, those with autoimmune diseases, babies and the elderly at risk. People are dying because some think that death is a better option than autism.
Of course, we should always be questioning what we are putting in our bodies and with growing distrust in the pharmaceutical industry this skepticism has become mainstream. There have been ingredients put into vaccines in the past that have had harmful effects to some, but they have since been removed and replaced with less dangerous substitutes.
Vaccines should be constantly studied and tested to make sure we are providing the safest ingredients to consumers, and the pharmaceutical industry should be open and upfront about side effects. However most of the vaccines on the market right now have been around for years and been scrutinized relentlessly to ensure their safety.
If parents were truly concerned with the safety of their children, they would protect them against preventable illness.
It is important to analyze our own personal actions and how they impact those around us. Many people have disregarded immunizations because they no longer see the illnesses they are preventing against in their communities.
However, the reason these illnesses are no longer as prevalent as they used to be is because of the work that we have collectively put in as a community to rid ourselves of these dangers. Practices such as covering our coughs, washing our hands, or using latrines are all ways we have improved the overall health of our society.
Abandoning these precautions is not only unsanitary but almost primitive, so why would we abandon vaccinations when they are just a part of the everyday practices that keep ourselves and those around us safe?
For more information about herd immunity and the importance of vaccination, visit: https://reference.medscape.com/features/slideshow/vaccine-preventable-diseases#page=4

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