Amidst the chaos of the recent Washington state measles outbreak and the anti-vax trend popularized by influential celebrities and blindly followed by gullible housewives, this week we will be breaking down everything you need to know about immunizations. What are they? Are they beneficial? Necessary? Linked to autism? Are they actually hallucinogenic drugs being pumped into our bodies by the government to alter our perception of reality? If these questions plague your every thought and keep you awake at night, read on, paranoid inquirer.
Photo: Hush Naidoo on Unsplash
In 1912, without a vaccine, approximately 6,000 measles-related deaths were reported each year in the United States. To put that into perspective, America has been at war in Afghanistan for 18 years now and the U.S. casualty count is 2,216. In just one year, measles would have killed almost three times that number if gone untreated. Fortunately, in 1963, a vaccine was developed by a man named John Enders. From that point on, you could have your child vaccinated at 12 months old and feel relief knowing they had a 97% chance of never contracting the horrible disease. Unfortunately, implications that vaccines are linked to autism or that they are in any other way unsafe have been on the rise, and as a result, more and more parents are choosing “natural remedies” over proven, effective vaccinations.
What are vaccines? Simply put, vaccines are our defense against the viruses, diseases, or bacteria we might one day come into contact with. They make our immune systems stronger and prepare us for the worst, should we encounter it. When toxins get into our bodies and we get sick, the body reacts by producing antibodies to fight off these toxins. Even after the virus is defeated, our body will continue to produce these antibodies to protect us from future attacks, making us immune to these diseases. Immunization protects us from many kinds of diseases, including whooping cough, polio, rubella, mumps, and other diseases that can be deadly if contracted, and especially deadly at a young age. By giving a small, weakened dose of the disease to a healthy person, the vaccine provokes the immune system to respond and build up an immunity. Before vaccines, the only way to become immune to a disease was to contract it and survive. Obviously, the pain you feel from the prick of a needle is preferable to polio.
Charlie Sheen, Kat Von D, Donald Trump, and Jenny McCarthy are all well-known celebrities who have spoken out against vaccines. Jenny McCarthy is probably the most vocal anti-vaxxer on the list and it is her belief that the MMR vaccine caused her son’s autism. Do vaccines cause autism? The answer to that is an overwhelming, clear-cut, without a doubt, positively and absolutely, no. There is no link between vaccines and autism. There are no ingredients in vaccines that could cause autism. Autism is a developmental disability with which there is no one known cause. Therefore, vaccines can not cause autism. According to Autism Speaks Inc., some risk factors are due to genetic changes, others are related to older parents giving birth, pregnancy complications, or pregnancies spaced less than a year apart.
So whether you are inclined to believe previous Playboy Bunny, Jenny McCarthy, and her nonexistent scientific credentials on the matter or our dear, old, eccentric President tweeting “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!,” consider something first. Even if vaccines were linked to autism and, cannot stress this enough, they are not, would you really rather have your child exposed and vulnerable to a deadly disease than raise a beautiful, healthy child who happens to have autism? One can only hope not.
As of Monday the 28th, the state of Washington has 36 reported cases of measles just since the beginning of the month, most of these are in children under the age of 10 who were unvaccinated. Washington has declared a state of emergency and rightly so. This can easily be prevented by following your doctor’s recommended immunization schedule. Vaccines are not beneficial but necessary, and they are not in any way linked to autism despite what your favorite celebrity might be broadcasting. As far as the theory about the government drugging its citizens… if you believe birds and Wyoming aren’t real, this one may have some real stuff to unpack. Hopefully, your thirst for knowledge has been quenched and answered a few of your burning questions in regards to everything you need to know about immunizations.
Rachel is a junior transfer at Bridgewater State University coming from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She is a full-time student as well as working two jobs and any free time she has is spent reading. She loves her dog, Bon Iver, and a nice cup of coffee above everything and she is very, very excited to be able to write for Step Up!