vaccinations magnify where we stand

Throughout our lives we’ve been taught that ‘90%’ is an ‘A’ – well, ‘A minus‘ if you want to get technical. In so many of our academic challenges, nine out of ten is perfectly acceptable. Accidents happen right? We all make mistakes.
But what if the test consisted of just one question, with the answer being fed to you by countless experts? Would there then be any excuse for not reaching that coveted ‘A+’?

The question being referred to of course is whether or not parents should vaccinate their children. And in case any doubt still lingers, the answer, supported by doctors, researchers and virtually every expert working within the medical field, is yes. Parents should vaccinate their children.

Despite the overwhelming evidence however, the vaccination debate will just not go away, even gaining significant backing in many areas of the country. While new statistics released by the CDC show the rates of our most important vaccinations (chicken pox, MMR, pertussis) hovering around 95%, this is still not enough. According to a Time magazine article on these results, “Vaccination rates need to reach or exceed 95%, depending on the disease, to maintain herd immunity—the protection afforded by vaccinated people to those few who can’t be vaccinated, by giving the virus too few ways to body-surf its way across a population until it finds someone who’s vulnerable. So while a 90% vaccination rate might look like an A, it in fact may be no better than a middling C.”

As these rates continue to surge in more rural areas, such as Mississippi and West Virginia, they continue to plummet in many upscale communities, further cementing the established view that the anti-vaccination movement consists mainly of upper-class Caucasian women, emboldened by a sense of community and high profile presence in the media, and fueled by an ever-increasing variety of concerns, ranging from the outrageous, to the political, to the borderline-rational, to the simply misled. The original arguments still abound, focusing on “Big Pharma” conspiracy theories, worries over vaccine ingredients, and, amazingly, the completely discredited Wakefield study (a conspiracy theory in itself).

With more studies continuing to dispel the causal connection of vaccines and autism, much of the debate has shifted towards the efficacy of vaccines, and whether receiving them is even worth the infinitesimal but nonetheless acknowledged risk. My new favorite argument falls vaguely into this category, with vaccine opponents attempting to highlight the dangers of modern day vaccines by comparing them to some of our earliest attempts at immunization, such as that against cowpox– introduced in 1872 – as if nineteenth century medical science were in any way held to the same standards as our modern day regulations (“Science once endorsed the use of leeches! Why should it ever be trusted again?” – another common argument, OFTEN PRESENTED LIKE THIS). But unfortunately, assertions that the eradication of some of our most harmful diseases is due more to a general increase in good hygiene as opposed to vaccinations, simply doesn’t stand up against the numbers – a fact made even more clear by the resurgence of these diseases in areas all over the world experiencing falling vaccination rates.

Simply put, in inverse proportion to the increasing amount of doubters, the science and data remains on the side of vaccines. Though the still-skyrocketing amount of autism diagnoses is tragic to say the least, the demand for answers understandable, ignoring the evidence and putting many other lives at risk will only exacerbate what are for now, containable outbreaks. Right now we may be hovering around the necessary 95% immunization rate, but in this Pass or Fail course we need to study harder.