Advocating vaccination or a matter of pri-vac-y?
The world has taken up keen notice on a worldwide controversy about vaccination and it has been under much scrutiny as of late on the world wide web where many strong opinions have been voiced on various online platforms throughout the years.
Social platforms such as Pinterest, Youtube, Facebook and Amazon are on the crackdown to intercept vaccination rumours and hoaxes from literally turning viral (no pun intended). You can read more about it here.
Closer to home, the Malaysian Education and Health ministries are still in discussion about whether vaccinations should be made mandatory in public schools.
“Vaccination is not just an act of individual responsibility; it is also an act of public solidarity.”
— Prof Luigi Lopalco
Touted as one of the best inventions of the human race, the first vaccine was created for smallpox in 1796 by Edward Jenner. It took almost 100 years for the next vaccine to be created and Louis Pasteur coined the term “vaccine” in 1881. Since then, the inoculation of vaccines have eradicated diseases and plagues.
Not only does vaccination provide long term prevention to diseases, but they also provide a lifetime immunity for individuals.
In an ideal world, there is a term for a group of people who have been vaccinated — a herd community. Also known as community immunity, it is when enough people are vaccinated against a disease to protect the unvaccinated minority. However, herd immunity is not a 100% guarantee because it can only happen when the amount of vaccinated people are more than the unvaccinated in a population.
A growing number of non-vaccinated individuals is concerning. Measles reared its ugly head at the end of 2015, after being 100% exterminated in the early 2000s.
Why do anti-vaxxers exist?
The proliferation of the anti-vaxxers movement varies for many reasons — sanitary, religious, scientific, and political objections; and these skeptics has been around since the evolution of vaccines.
Anti-vaxxers believe that the reason why diseases have been eradicated is largely due to improved sanitation over the centuries. Better hygiene did actually help control and eliminate many infectious diseases such as cholera and typhoid, and many anti-vaxxers use this as a common statement.
Some individuals from various faith traditions believe that vaccination does not go hand in hand with their personal religious beliefs. However, no major religious group advocates against vaccinations on the basis of official doctrine.
The most popular theory is that mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism. The word was first coined by Leo Kanner in 1943, which originated from the Greek words “isolated self”.
A 16-year-old “Vaccines Cause Autism” paper published in 1998 has finally been withdrawn after some errors were found relating to the flaws found in several elements. However, this idea is still widely persisting in some circles.
Politicians are known to lean strongly to support the anti-vaxxers movement during polls or elections, because they can fill votes accounting up to as much as 5% of the population.
Dr. Knute Buehler, a physician turned politician in Oregon said that “parents deserve the right to opt out” of vaccinations for “personal beliefs, for religious beliefs or even if they have strong alternative medical beliefs.
Many other right-wing politicians in the United States have also made a stand to condemn schools for their strict vaccination rules or push the word “choice” as an anti-vaccine dog-whistle.
At the end of the day, it is an existing choice in today’s world, just as with the choices of many of life’s changing matters.
We believe that everyone deserves a right to choose, but the choice to vaccinate is still a sound truth that will not only save your loved ones, but also the loved ones of families out there.
The bigger picture is that vaccination still preserves the wellbeing of the community at large.
The option to not inoculate one’s child is a risk parents have to bear for not just that one individual but as a collective society.