The Importance of Vaccination
In recent years, a wave of anti-vaccination beliefs has been sweeping the nation. However, vaccines “protect us from diseases that used to routinely kill hundreds of thousands of children in the United States and still kill hundreds of thousands globally” (University of Pennsylvania, 2012). Even with this knowledge, many parents have refused to vaccinate their children over fears of side effects, but this has created a significant health risk for the greater public and those more at risk, such as children too young for vaccines and the elderly. Much of the anti-vaccination sentiment is based on misinformation and uninformed positions. Vaccines have benefited humanity greatly and the only thing to outperform the benefits of vaccines to public health is clean water (Andre, Booy, Bock, Clemens, Datta & John et al., 2008). Vaccinations are an essential part of disease prevention as when children are not vaccinated, they can spread diseases to others and face serious health risks of their own from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Vaccines rely on a herd, meaning that they are only very effective if nearly everyone receives them. This helps to eradicate the diseases from the bulk of the population, making it very unlikely that at-risk and unvaccinated individuals would be exposed to the diseases. As a result, the more unvaccinated people there are, the greater the risk of an outbreak. Therefore, “if a high number of children go intentionally unvaccinated because of personal belief exemptions, herd immunity is compromised…giving a disease the chance to spread rapidly” and put others at risk (University of Pennsylvania, 2012). For example, according to Fox (2015), a recent outbreak of measles occurred at Disney World because an unvaccinated child who had the disease visited the park and subsequently infected dozens of other children, many of whom were too young to have yet been vaccinated.
Vaccines have been highly effective in...