To Vaccinate or Not, That is the Question


Photo Credit:

All 50 states allow vaccine exemptions for medical reasons but only 17 allow exemptions for philosophical reasons.

Sofi Serio, Editor-In-Chief

In the age before vaccinations were created, measles cost 2.6 million people their lives each year. Measles was once a disease feared by many, and then came the measles vaccine. Today, this disease still kills 100,000 people worldwide each year, but that is a far cry from where our world was pre-1960. In the United States, measles was considered completely eliminated in 2000.

As Dr. Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, points out, “We have seen a steep decline in the number of measles cases here in the United States to the point that in the year 2000, the Center for Disease Control had declared that the U.S. is now freed from measles. But nearly 20 years later, doctors are concerned that may not be the case anymore.”

In fact, 2018 saw 349 individual cases of measles, a high not seen since the elimination of the disease pre-2000.

In the first two months of 2019, there have been 159 reported cases of measles alone. That number is well on its way to reaching 2018’s record high.

Idaho’s western neighbor Washington has seen a recent outbreak in measles in 2019. A outbreak so widespread that Washington’s governor declared a state of emergency there in late January.

An outbreak in Idaho is highly probable because, according to the Daily Beast, “Idaho is home to eight of the 10 counties in the country with the highest rates of non-medical vaccine exemptions.”

Even though Idaho’s vaccination rate is at 87%, 3 percent less than the national average, Idaho continues to trend to drift towards vaccine hesitancy.

Furthering this trend, on February 25th of this year, Idaho state legislators in the House gave the thumbs up to a bill that would require schools and daycare providers to inform parents that their kids can opt out of vaccinations and still attend the school. Previous law states that parents can only exempt their children for religious or medical reasons.

There are several arguments anti vaccination proponents use to prove their point.

Parents’ primary concern is that chemicals in some vaccines cause autism. Although this has been widely refuted by many studies and health experts, parents still cling to this belief because of the little research that has been done on the correlation between autism and vaccinations. The study that began this panic, in fact, only studied 12 children. Research following that original study has involved millions of children and found no link between getting vaccines and getting autism.

Another argument is that vaccines contain high doses of dangerous chemicals which can seriously harm children.

This claim has also been widely refuted, with experts at Vaccine Today claiming that while there are very minute amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals in vaccines, if there were high levels of chemicals in vaccines, “health authorities would not endorse them, doctors would not administer them, and companies would have no interest in inventing, making and selling them.”

Experts credit the recent measles epidemic to the anti-vaccination movement that has caused waves of hysteria across the U.S.. This movement is gaining such momentum that it made the World Health Organization’s list of top 10 ‘global health threats’ for 2019.

When parents choose not to vaccinate their children, it puts our most vulnerable populations at risk.

Many children and adults fighting cancer cannot receive vaccinations due to compromised immune systems. Additionally, those with HIV/AIDS, Type 1 Diabetes or other health conditions often can’t be vaccinated against diseases like measles, tetanus, whooping cough and polio.

The measles epidemic is not just a problem facing the U.S., but is a widespread problem worldwide.

Recently, an unvaccinated French boy reintroduced measles to Costa Rica while vacationing there. Costa Rica had been measles-free for five years before the boy and his parents visited the country.

As our country and world sees a resurgence in vaccine hesitancy, it is important to remember that vaccines have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective. It is critical to consider the implications of choosing not to vaccinate our children. Not vaccinating could allow infectious diseases more horrific than we could imagine to once again become commonplace.