To grasp an idea that is beyond comprehension humans always try to rationalize the situation by blaming someone or something for their misfortunes. This is a reason that the anti-vaccination movement caught so much attention (?). The anti-vaccination movement has become a worldwide protest to end the “incessant” vaccination of children with “unknown chemicals” that are poisoning young children and creating a host of mental and physical disorders down the road. anti-vaccination has not only become a cause for concern in the United States, but has become a worldwide concern because preventable diseases are coming back with a vengeance and there does not seem to be a way to stop it. This paper will focus on what the consequences are for not following the appropriate vaccination schedule for children and what can be done to stop the ever growing expansion of preventable diseases.
To understand why anti-vaccination has gained remarkable momentum one needs to look at the origin (?). In 1998 a doctor, Andrew Wakefield, and twelve of his colleagues made a statement that changed the world. They conducted an experiment and came to the conclusion that the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine caused autism (Eggertson, 2010). With this information angry parents took up in arms to fight back against large medical corporations that were hurting their children. Rallies were held to show others how vaccinating children at such an early age could affect their health, both physically and mentally. However, what was not known at the time was that this study was conducted under false pretences. A second British study was conducted to verify the authenticity of the results and it was shown that Wakefield and his colleagues had “carefully selected the children [for the study] and some of Wakefield’s research was funded by lawyers acting for parents who were involved in lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers” (Eggertson, 2010, para. 5). Unfortunately once Wakefield’s paper was published the damage had already been done. Many parents had the reason they needed to loathe vaccines and the supposed consequences that came with them.
The consequences of not vaccinating children has been cause for debate since Wakefield’s paper was published. However, this topic has been in the news and social media more recently because of the increase in disease pockets that continue to grow, especially around the United States. The fear of vaccination has led to the multi state increase in preventable diseases, most notably measles and pertussis, most commonly known as whooping cough (Van Panhuis et al., 2013). It has been estimated that since the measles and pertussis vaccines were introduced in their respective time periods it has prevented “26 million cases (99% of those that would otherwise have occurred)” (Van Panhuis et al., 2013, para. 16). However, over the past years there has been a constant decline in the number of those protected by the vaccine which are supported by “previous estimates of 92%…of cases prevented in 2006 and 86%…of cases prevented in 2010” (Van Panhuis et al., 2013, para. 16). Regardless, anti-vaccinators continue to disregard what professionals tell them which is that the “striking and persistent reductions in disease incidence rates after vaccine licensure…”(Van Panhuis et al., 2013, para. 18). However, because of lack of vaccination measles has begun to grow in areas that were thought to have eliminated the disease. As of 2014, “[the] annual number of reported measles cases ranged from 37 people in 2004 to 667 people in 2014” (Measles Data and Statistics, n.d., para. 4). In addition, “pertussis is the only vaccine-preventable disease that has been consistently on the rise in the United States” with the greatest resurgence of the disease occuring in the North Midwest in 2015 (Van Panhuis et al., 2013, para. 15). By consciously choosing not to vaccinate children this is decreasing herd immunity which is meant to help stop the spread of disease by making it harder for the disease to infect and transmit (Gangarosa et al., 1998). It was also meant to help those that are immunocompromised and those that are allergic to vaccinations. This means that without herd immunity anyone can get infected and the disease can continue to spread without any obstacles which results in pocketed outbreaks. It is important to begin vaccinating children so as to stop the decline in herd immunity and the increase in infected children that lead to a host of difficulties down the road.
In today’s time the popularity of social media has made it possible for “anybody [to] contribute content via blogging, photo-sharing, video-uploading, and more” through platforms like “YouTube…Facebook, Twitter, etc” (Kata, 2011, para. 3). This has made it easier than ever for people to voice their opinions, “[share] medical histories, treatment successes and failures, or experienced side-effects” (Kata, 2011, para. 4). However, this freedom also comes with repercussions because many of these personal stories lack authority yet are treated as facts. When allowed to do so this can create a “mob mentality” which means that others influence the opinions of their peers based on emotion rather than logic. The anti-vaccination movement uses this to its advantage along with the use of scare tactics rather than scientific data to “debate about potential vaccine risks, which…technology transmits via a rhetoric of doubt” and these “attitudes and beliefs can quickly become global” (Kata, 2009, para. 2). Another justification for not vaccinating young children is the rationale that if A occurs and then B occurs right after that must mean that A caused B (Davidson, 2017). However, that is not always the case since multiple factors are in play and it could have been C that caused B at the same time A was in occurance. This is what occurs when a child has autism. The straightforward answer that most parents see is that once the vaccine was administered their child started showing symptoms of said syndrome and it made the most sense to blame the vaccine instead of looking further to see that it could be a disorder. Since everyone is able to log onto social media, these first hand accounts are told so as to “aid” other parents. This makes these stories are very hard to refute because the sites have “become veritable “echo chambers”” (Shelby & Ernst, 2013, para. 16). This means that the websites are regulated so as to only include information or testimonials that are from an anti-vaccinators point of view and any others are subject to being deleted (Shelby & Ernst, 2013). However, it is the hope of many scientists and pro-vaccinators that the strategies of the anti-vaccine movement can be used while also using informative research that gives the facts on vaccines to try and defend vaccines against the barrage of anti-vaccination sentiment.
The anti-vaccination movement does not seem to be fading away as most trends do. Instead it seems to be gaining more ground as the falsification of Wakefield’s experiment continues to be taken as truth. It is a worldwide hope that vaccination of children can begin again and the increase in outbreaks of preventable diseases can be stopped. However, the truth is that there will always be a discrepancy between what we do not know, and therefore have to rationalize to ourselves, and what science can prove to us. Which means that the anti-vaccination movement is here to stay until scientists and pro-vaccinators can demonstrate to anti-vaccinators that vaccines should not be feared or until a new way of vaccination can be achieved.