Don’t hesitate; vaccinate

The latest study to look at MMR vaccines and autism goes an extra step.

If I were to tell you that there is something that could potentially save your life, as well as the lives of others around you, you would ask me what that something is, right? You would probably tell me that you’d like that something and you’d probably even be willing to pay money for it. After all, it is for your own benefit, and it would help the people around you, too.

This incredible creation is called a vaccine, and it provides protection from life–threatening diseases. Why is it, then, that some people refuse to get vaccinated?

From Jan. 1 to April 26, there were 704 individual cases of measles that had been reported in the U.S., which is the greatest number of cases reported since 1994, and since measles were declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000.

At a time like this, when numerous measles cases have been reported, it is imperative to get vaccinated not only to protect yourself, but others around you, no matter what personal beliefs you have.

There are numerous reasons why people don’t get vaccinated. Some of these reasons include safety concerns, personal beliefs and religious reasons.

Some people believe that vaccines cause autism and, therefore, these people refuse to be vaccinated. However, there is absolutely no causal relationship between vaccines and autism. Between 2003 and 2015, there were nine CDC funded and conducted studies regarding the proposed link between vaccines, concentrating on the ingredient thimerosal, and autism. All nine of these studies concluded that there was no relationship between the two.

Others have personal beliefs regarding vaccines, saying that the best immunity is natural immunity. Natural immunity can only come so far: When fighting something like measles or swine flu, the immune system needs antibodies to fight these infectious diseases. This process would be much easier and much more effective with vaccines, because if the body detects a disease, it will already have the antibodies needed to fend off the illness.

People should understand that vaccines are here to help us, and they should stop creating ridiculous reasons as to why they should not be vaccinated. Vaccines are essential so that we keep ourselves and the people around us safe.

Many people have cited religious reasons for refusing vaccinations because some have been made with certain ingredients from pigs, dogs, monkeys and fetal cells. This criticism has come from those who practice Judaism, Islam and Catholicism.

Religious leaders have eschewed this perspective. Jewish and Islamic scholars as well as the Vatican have endorsed vaccinations. They have said that vaccines do not violate any religious laws, especially because religious laws target ingestion, not injection, and religious laws do not pertain to medicine. Moreover, religious leaders have said that vaccinating children is a duty of the parents as vaccines are proven to help save lives and prevent the spread of disease. They have stated that the protection of children comes before any religious laws.

Given all of this information, it is absurd that people even consider forgoing their vaccinations. The World Health Organization (WHO) has approximated that vaccines have saved more than 10 million lives in the past decade alone.

Not only can vaccines help the person getting vaccinated, but it also helps children who are too young to be vaccinated and those who are allergic to components of the vaccination. If the people who can be vaccinated are vaccinated, it helps prevent the disease from spreading to the vulnerable population.

If people are not vaccinated, it puts this vulnerable population at risk. This happened recently in California, where five-month-old Walter Blum, who is too young to be vaccinated against measles, contracted the disease because the people in his community had not been vaccinated.

It is imperative that everyone who can be vaccinated is vaccinated so that the spread of highly contagious diseases, such as measles, can be contained more easily. Vaccines are life-saving, and in a developed nation such as the U.S. we are lucky to have the kind of access to vaccines that we do.

There is a way to potentially save your life and the lives of the people around you: Get vaccinated.


Anika Veeraraghav is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at anika.veeraraghav@uconn.edu.