Another Look at Vaccines: A Revisit to an Article from 2015

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In 2015, the Spokesman published an article which argued that vaccines should not be mandated. It was the con side of an op-ed piece that delved into the specifics and stated that many vaccines can cause severe illness, though the myth that vaccines cause autism was debunked quite some time ago. The article presents many statistics regarding the chances of developing an illness from vaccines, and though most are obscure numbers, the author cites that it is also rare to be killed by a shark, even though we see shark attacks all the time. Along with this, the article argues that even though there are a plethora of vaccines and possible illnesses, many of the illnesses, such as yellow fever, only affect people living in a certain geographical location. It concludes by saying that there are risks that come with vaccines, and citizens and legal guardians should be allowed to gauge the risk on their own. 

On the other hand, the pro-vaccine side of the argument (which you can find here), looks at how some diseases, like diphtheria, an infection prevalent in the 1920s which affected the nose and throat, have seemingly vanished over time due to vaccines. It asks: “Do you know how many cases [of diphtheria] have been recorded this year? Zero. The reason for this drastic fall in cases is due to one thing: vaccines.” The author goes on to showcase an example of what happens when a concentrated group of people do not get vaccinated by stating that “any counties in California have low vaccination rates compared to the rest of the state, which caused a recent outbreak of measles because the population was not vaccinated enough for Herd Immunity to come into effect, the measles virus was transmitted very quickly.” Herd immunity is when a large percentage of a population is immune to an infectious disease, often through vaccination, which mitigates the chances of an outbreak. However, this opens up holes in a community, increasing the risk of spread of disease if not everyone is safe. During this global pandemic, it is obvious that the spread of disease can be fatal, so what does that mean for anti-vaxxers and state laws? The states of Mississippi, California, Maine, New York, and West Virginia mandate vaccines with no religious or philosophical exceptions, and when the coronavirus vaccine is released, it poses the question: should all states be mandating the coronavirus vaccine without exceptions? 

To answer this, we turned to the PDS Director of Wellness Dr. Shah. Dr. Shah recognizes the necessity of vaccines in today’s society, but she acknowledges some side effects: “Do [vaccines] cause reactions? Yes. Do they feel bad sometimes? Yes. But these are transient things.” Dr. Shah believes the importance of vaccines in protecting and building children’s immunity is undeniable; as a result she sees things like discomfort as “minimal to the effects of the vaccine.” The main issue that arises however is that minors do not make the decision to get vaccinated, their parents do. To this point, Dr. Shah says, “When thinking about the good of the child, there are very few arguments for parents just not liking vaccines.” Dr. Shah also sees the potential dangers of herd immunity. In theory, the concept works but in practice, “the higher risk of the spread of disease will result in much more stress upon the healthcare system and increase the chances of death.” In response to questions about the current pandemic and the potential vaccine that might be made available in the near future, Dr. Shah speaks about the societal shifts that have occured: “The changes in our culture, schedule, and community globally will make a vaccine a much easier sell.” The widespread panic that has resulted in fairly strict social distancing has resulted in a serious mindset shift that Dr. Shah hopes will be enough to turn the tide in the argument of vaccines. 

At the end of the day, there is no such thing as governmental regulation of vaccines at any level, local or federal, it will likely not happen either. The best we can do as a community is to be knowledgeable enough about the overall benefits and weigh them against any possible detractors. 

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