Vaccines have transformed the world of medicine. They protect society from infectious diseases that would otherwise kill millions.
Despite the many benefits that they bring, there’s still strong opposition from the general public. People ignore pushes for vaccinations against preventable diseases such as influenza, chicken pox and whooping cough.
Getting vaccinated is a crucial citizen responsibility.
Role of vaccines
“Vaccines are one of the most important medical advances of the century,” said Juliette Tinker, biology professor at Boise State and current vaccine researcher.
It’s no different than wearing a seatbelt in a car. It’s a precaution.
Not everyone who doesn’t wear a seatbelt will get in a car accident. If something were to go wrong, however, the risk is much higher if the precaution is not taken.
The same applies to vaccines. Not everyone who doesn’t get vaccinated will become sick, however, if they do, there’s a chance of fatality.
Children are suffering from the consequences of not getting vaccinated because parents are ignoring the facts. In 2012, a large whooping cough outbreak occurred in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control reported at least 48,277 cases of whooping cough, the most since 1995.
The CDC linked the outbreak to the lack of vaccinations against the disease.
Many times, people refuse to get vaccinated due to their lack of education of how they work, their role and importance. Lots of myths have been built around the issue.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study in “The Lancet” in 1998 stating that there was a link to an increase in autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The study cut corners, jumped to conclusions, used a biased sample group and had questionable financial ties to the trial lawyers.
Since then, there have been over 100 studies disproving the claim that autism is linked to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, and there’s still ongoing research looking into the issue. Ten out of the 13 original researchers have withdrawn their names from Wakefield’s study. Despite the proof, people still beat the dead horse and use it as an excuse to avoid vaccinations.
Another common myth is that vaccines will cause someone to get sick with the illness. This claim couldn’t be more wrong.
Why vaccines work
Many vaccines carry either the dead pathogen or antigenic fragments that elicit an immune response within the body. Dead pathogens cannot replicate—they are already dead. Antigenic fragments can’t either because they are only a portion of the pathogen. They can’t replicate and cause illness because they don’t have all the necessary components to replicate within the body.
Attenuated or live vaccines do have a live microbe, however it is weakened. Only a small number of the weakened pathogen is injected, just enough to cause an immune response but not nearly enough to cause illness.
Even though the virus (or bacteria) is injected into the person, it is done in a way that won’t get the person sick.
Scientists and researchers spend years developing a vaccine. On average, it takes 10 to 15 years to receive a licensure for a human vaccine to be used in public health. This includes an exploratory stage, preclinical trials with mice, clinical trials with humans, regulatory review and approval, manufacturing and quality control. Even after the vaccine receives approval, it undergoes continuous research to ensure its effectiveness.
“I think it’s really important to understand how long of a process it is to make a vaccine, and how there are really a lot of safety nets in place,” Tinker said.
Getting vaccinated is crucial for a healthy society. Not only are those who get vaccinated protecting themselves, they protect others from getting infected. This is vital for those who might be immunocompromised from an autoimmune disease or receiving chemotherapy. The less people who are carriers of the illness, the better. It protects those who can’t get vaccinated.
Take one for the team and get vaccinated. A small prick from a needle to protect lives is well worth it.