Vaccines Prevent Diseases and Save Lives

George Baldwin, Opinion Editor

86, 120, 372, 555.

Those are the numbers of measles cases in the U.S. by year from 2016-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The deadly disease measles has made a big comeback in recent years. And everyone has the anti-vaxxers to thank for that.

Anti-vaxxers are a group of people who refuse to inoculate their children, going against years of valid scientific research and putting not only their own kids at but also risk the health of others by doing so. To combat this, the United States should implement mandatory vaccinations to prevent any more children from dying and stop the resurgence of more formerly eradicated diseases.

Vaccines save lives. It is a simple fact that anti-vaxxers deny.  In the U.S., vaccines save an estimated 42,000 lives every year, according to the Immunization Partnership, a non profit organization that supports vaccines. Globally, an estimated 1.7 million lives were saved by the measles vaccine from 2000-15, according to the World Health Organization. Yet the value of vaccines is taken for granted by many, like those who choose not to get a flu shot, and especially those who refuse to vaccinate their kids.

Vaccines have almost completely eliminated certain  diseases in the U.S. This includes diphtheria, rotavirus, hib and polio, all very dangerous diseases, according to the CDC. Yet because people choose not to vaccinate their kids, measles, mumps, whooping-cough and chickenpox have come back to terrorize the country. When unvaccinated kids are out in public, the potential for them to contract one of these horrible diseases, or give them to someone else, is terrifyingly high. Early this year a man contracted measles from New York City, and brought it to Detroit where he quickly infected 39 people in March, according to an April 16 Washington Post article.

A common anti-vaxxer argument is that vaccines cause autism, information pulled from a 1998 study that has since been retracted by The Lancet, the medical journal responsible for publishing the misinformation because of logical errors in the study. But the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says autism is a genetic disorder. Yet due to false and weak studies that have been spread by the internet and social media, some people believe that a genetic disorder can be caused from something after birth. Ironically, if the pregnant mother has rubella, a vaccine preventable disease, it increases the chances of the child being born with autism.

Congress should pass a law making vaccines mandatory in order to save lives, eradicate certain diseases and show they are not turning a blind eye to an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence supporting vaccines, most notably a 2013 study by the Immunization Safety office, and a 2011 study by the Institute of Medicine. With over 30 years of research, it is ridiculous some are still so passionately against them.