Epidemics have been around for as long as time has been recorded. Plagues, viruses, and baterias have all taken advantage of the human body to weaken and destroy. However, as the times changed, so did medical science. Vaccines were soon invented and revolutionized the medical field, making once incurable diseases manageable and even preventable. Yet, despite the overwhelming good vaccinations have brought to advanced countries, many still question the authenticity and benefits of vaccines.
Vaccines help the body defend against a certain strain of virus or bacteria, and trains the body to respond should that strain appear (Dansby). Most vaccines will use a dead form of the virus or bacteria, allowing the immune system to create a defence known as memory cells. These cells will act as warning bells if a live strain enters the body, allowing the body to use the defences gained via the vaccination to destroy the virus. Some of the vaccinations have effects that last for an individual’s lifespan, others may require additional shots called booster shots to remain effective (Ballard).
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With that being said, one may still be asking if the population truly needs vaccines. Currently, there are 14 diseases that are preventable by being vaccinated, which helps keep an epidemic from breaking out or spreading amongst the population. Polio and the black death are some examples of outbreaks that are no longer a threat as long as an individual is vaccinated. These diseases once had disastrous effects on humanity, and it is imperative to keep these at bay (Dansby).
The black death was a plague that invaded Europe, killing nearly one-third of the population in its wake. Medical science was nowhere near the point it is now, therefore allowing the disease to run rampant amongst hosts. This caused the infected to catch fever, have dark spots appear on the skin, infection to spread to other organs, and eventually led to coma or death. As science grew, a vaccine was discovered, and cases or outbreaks of the disease decreased in urban countries, numbers of infected dwindling to near zero (Peters).
Polio is another disease that has been nearly eradicated in urban areas due to vaccination. Polio was a disease that targeted the spinal cord of the infected, causing paralysis of limbs or even death in many cases. Eventually, a vaccine was introduced to the United States around 1955, and the U.S. has not had a case of the polio disease since around 1979 (CDC website).
The general health of many people is also influenced by the need for vaccine. Flu season is not nearly as bad as it could be because a vast majority of the population gets vaccinated to prevent it. This keeps individuals and those around them safe and healthy during times when the flu virus tends to strike hardest (Ballard).
So, with all of this backing vaccines, is there really any doubt towards their benefits? There is still doubt, however, but it is very low in numbers. The main stem of this doubt is caused by a group of people known as anti-vaxxers. These are individuals who will refuse to vaccinate themselves or their children based on fears and doubts of the medical field and vaccinations. The beliefs and actions are proving to have an effect on the population, the evidence growing slightly every year.
Anti-vaxxers have a vast diversity of beliefs and reasons as to why they refuse to receive or allow vaccinations. Some believe that an improvement in sanitation and hygiene have caused a decrease in diseases rather than vaccines eliminating the risk, while others believe vaccines will not protect you based on the fact that if given a live vaccination, a vaccination containing a weakened version of the virus, there is a chance of getting a mild version of that disease. A few anti-vaxxers even claim vaccines will cause health defects such as autism if given to children. All of this stems from a distrust of science and/or the government, beliefs of politicians and doctors with only a desire for money blinding the anti-vaxxers (Healthline website).
Due to all of the beliefs anti-vaxxers hold, cases of once eradicated diseases have become apparent once more. Diseases like measles, whooping cough, and measles, are all very contagious and need to be vaccinated against to keep them from spreading and causing another large outbreak. However, with the rise of anti-vaxxers, these diseases are slowly seeping back into the population, infecting those who are unvaccinated and posing a threat to others around them (Dansby).
Opposing this side are the doctors and other medical professionals who offer a surmounting mount of evidence proving the anti-vaxxer side incorrect. These professionals show evidence in the form of studies, experiments, and journals. (Oxford website).
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