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Vaccines Provide Essential Protection From Disease

Fictitious+studies+make+the+difference+between+fact+and+fiction+hard+to+decipher.
Fictitious studies make the difference between fact and fiction hard to decipher.

Fictitious studies make the difference between fact and fiction hard to decipher.

Sarah Jacobson

Sarah Jacobson

Fictitious studies make the difference between fact and fiction hard to decipher.

Sarah Jacobson, Editor in Chief

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Vaccines have existed for a long time; the first vaccination method was developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner to prevent smallpox. And as long as vaccines have existed, so have people who distrust them. However, nowadays, we have thousands of studies to back up the effectiveness of vaccines, something Edward Jenner lacked when he was trying to convince people of his genius. Despite these studies, many people today are still skeptical of vaccines, but the question is why, and at what cost?

“Vaccines were created to prevent illnesses and also to protect those that are medically not able to get vaccinated,” certified school nurse Ms. Lauren Wieder said. “So that’s why if the majority of people get vaccinated who are medically able to get vaccinated, then those that are sick or critically ill and can’t get vaccinated will be protected.”

Despite the fact that vaccines have been around for over 200 years now, many people aren’t sure of how they work. According to Vaccines.gov, vaccines help the immune system fight infections effectively by sparking an immune response to help the body fight off the germ. When you come in contact with the illness, your body will remember the germ and attack it. One of the most appealing part of vaccines is that they don’t make you sick, so there’s no need to call out of school to get your measles vaccine.

They are a low risk ways to help eradicate disease in America and abroad. This is why it’s required by all public American high schools, including our own, to get vaccinated, unless the student is able to provide a reasonable excuse. Another lesser known benefit of vaccines is that they don’t just help you; some people are too sick to receive vaccines, or have religious exemptions, so they benefit from a concept known as herd immunity. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), herd immunity is the idea that if the majority of people are vaccinated against a disease, then those who aren’t are protected because the chances of anyone getting the disease is low in the first place.

“If you look up anything online… you’ll see [the facts] about vaccines.” senior Sana Gold said. “If people saw facts and statistics maybe they would change their minds [about vaccines].”

In order for a vaccine to be administered to the general public, it has to go through a series of rigorous testing done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Vaccines.gov describes that process as being held to high safety standards. When a vaccine is tested, scientists are trying to answer three questions: is the vaccine safe, what dose works best, and how does the immune system react?

The years-long approval process doesn’t stop when those three questions are answered. The company that produces the vaccine must then condense the ingredients list so that as few foreign substances are entering the body as possible. Only then will the vaccine be approved for public use, and even after a vaccine is introduced to the public, several government agencies, including the CDC and the FDA, must continue to monitor its safety.

“So far, there has not been any significant documentation that does prove that vaccines are harmful,” Ms. Wieder said.

Despite the purpose of these thoroughly researched components of public health, many people still have some concerns when it comes to vaccines. Mr. Andrew Wakefield came out with a study in 1998 claiming to find a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, and despite the fact that this information was later proved false, the damage had already been done.

Soon enough people began to speculate about the effects of vaccines, which lead to even more myths begin spread around. Other falsehoods that people now believe include preservatives in vaccines pose health risks and receiving multiple vaccines at once will cause health issues.

Is there some truth to these statements? As far as vaccines causing autism, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the initial research done on this topic was found to be fraudulent. WHO also reports that the preservatives in vaccines are entirely safe, and that receiving multiple vaccines at once is not an issue.

“I’ve heard people saying [vaccines] causes autism or Asperger’s,” sophomore Ava Lang said. “I’ve heard those myths a lot.”

The main reason people believe these disproven “facts” about vaccines is the internet. The internet provides a ton of resources, but not all of these resources provide factual information. Because of that, many people receive information about vaccines that aren’t true, and fail to check up on those facts. That’s why fact-checking is so important; no matter how accurate a website seems, you should always double-check information to ensure you aren’t being mislead.

People who believe in these or other fabricated facts about vaccines aren’t bad people, they are just misinformed. Vaccines are important for public health, and without them, many dangerous diseases would still be widespread across the world. Access to vaccines is a privilege that we should not take for granted, and making sure that we educate ourselves through facts and fact checking is the first step to eradicating disease world wide.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Jacobson, Editor-in-Chief

Senior Sarah Jacobson is a third-year staff reporter, former Our World editor, and current Editor-in-Chief of the Spotlight. She is also the head of social...

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Vaccines Provide Essential Protection From Disease