Fight false information and get vaccinated



PROTECTED AGAINST DISEASES. In this photo illustration, a Sevier student shows off a post-vaccination bandage.

The Editorial Board

What would you do if you had 38 extra years to live? Would you discover a cure for cancer, invent a new technology, write a book?

According to “Our World in Data,” with the help of vaccines, life expectancy from 1820 to 2020 has increased by 38 years. So, who do so many parents choose to not take advantage of vaccinations?

In 1952, 60,000 children were infected with polio, a virus that affects the spinal cord and causes paralysis. In 2006, there were no cases of polio because a vaccine that was introduced in 1955.

In the 20th century alone, 300 million people died from smallpox. In 2006, there were only 55 cases of smallpox worldwide in response to a 1967 global campaign to get vaccinated.

Vaccines are, in many ways, at the core of our survival.

From birth to 15 months, the average newborn receives 25 vaccinations to prevent 15 serious and potentially deadly diseases. Nevertheless, 21.8 million children around the world go unvaccinated, resulting in 1.5 million preventable deaths of children under the age of five.

Part of this lack of vaccinations is due to the children’s environment. Some live where services are not provided or they cannot afford vaccinations.

According to the New York Times, vaccinations have increased in price from single digits to triple digits within the past two decades. Due to this increase, some doctors have stopped offering vaccinations because they are too expensive.

In September 2015, Martin Shkreli raised the prices on an antiparasitic drug, Daraprim, by a factor of 56, from $13.50 to $750 per pill, leading him to be referred to by the media as “the most hated man in America”. Although such a rapid increase has not affected vaccinations yet, trends in vaccine prices are a serious problem.

Vaccines, however, are still necessary. Most students who are absent during their early school careers, some due to vaccine-preventable illnesses, have a greater chance of not graduating. Therefore, vaccines can help students graduate high school and college by reducing their chances of being chronically absent.

According to “Attendance Works Tennessee”, students who miss more than two days in August are five times more likely to be chronically absent. The states’ definition of chronic absence is missing 18 or more days. Despite its daily attendance rate above 95 percent, Tennessee has 13.1 percent of its students chronically absent.

Not getting vaccinated also risks death. Many deadly diseases can now be prevented with vaccines. Each year, around one in five children die before their fifth birthday from a disease that could have been prevented with a vaccine. That is one child dying every twenty seconds.

Parents who do not vaccinate their children may negatively affect their child’s education and limit their child’s lifespan. So, why do many parents choose not to vaccinate?

While some parents believe that the federal agencies are not trustworthy, or that certain lifestyle choices make their child immune, their choice can impact even people who have been vaccinated. If an unvaccinated child becomes sick with a vaccine-preventable illness like the flu, they can still get other children sick.

In the 2019-2020 flu season, 10,000 people have died and 180,000 people have been hospitalized. Studies show that the flu vaccination reduces the risk of getting the flu by 40 to 60 percent. In the 2017-2018 flu season, there were 185 pediatric deaths from the flu, and 80 percent of those children had not received the flu vaccination.

In 1998, a study was released in England claiming that there was a correlation between the MMR vaccine – which is used to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella – and autism. This study was proven false because there was no effort made to compare vaccinated children and unvaccinated children. The study has been disproven by scientists and retracted by the author. However, it started a big wave of parents not trusting vaccines.

Many parents choose not to vaccinate because they believe myths that claim vaccines are dangerous and cause disorders like autism. Significant research proves that there is no scientific evidence that shows vaccines are dangerous, overload the immune system or cause autism.

Measles, one of the most contagious diseases, is preventable with vaccines. However, many communities do not get the vaccine and hence cause huge outbreaks. In 2018, there was an outbreak in New York City, costing six million dollars in healthcare bills. Studies have shown the cause of this epidemic was that travelers brought measles back from unvaccinated countries or communities.

In Brooklyn, 73 percent of the measles cases occurred in people who had not been vaccinated against the disease. Because of measles’ contagious behavior, 95 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to stop the spread of the disease. Dropping vaccination rates make additional outbreaks likely.

Vaccinations are necessary to our survival, and the only way to make vaccines accessible to everyone is to lower the costs. Everyone deserves a life without having to worry about the next time they will get sick from a preventable disease.

By choosing not to vaccinate, parents are killing their children. The information propelling these deadly decisions are incorrect, outdated and erroneous. A lack of vaccines prevents children from living a normal life, because they are constantly becoming ill and therefore falling behind in school.

Furthermore, many vaccine-preventable diseases cause disabilities, irreversible brain damage and side effects that will follow these children for the rest of their lives.

By just a prick of a needle, vaccines save countless lives.