Disregarding Vaccines Endangers Others

Jebb Harris

Meghan Rogers, Staff Writer

For most people, vaccinations are an expected part of a doctor’s visit. Although it is typically the most dreaded part, it’s understood by the patient that the shot will help them in the long run.  However, some people opt out of vaccinations, which puts the public at risk.

Choosing to opt out of a vaccination isn’t very hard to do – a parent simply has to tell their child’s doctor that they don’t want them to get the vaccine. The parent then has to fill out a vaccine exemption form. At Miramonte, a medical form from a doctor has to be attached to the form for reasons not to vaccinate. It has become quite easy to do this in recent years, arguably a little too easy.

“Even at Miramonte, some students don’t vaccinate,” Miramonte nurse Barbara Polanger said.

A high concentration of people have chosen to opt out of vaccinations in and around Berkeley. In 2010, there were more cases of whooping cough than any year in the United States since 1947. According to the California Department of Public Health, California had 9,477 cases and 10 deaths. There were fewer than 1,000 cases a year in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and most of the 2000s. Berkeley reported 18 cases and Alameda County as a whole had 422 cases.

Particularly in the United States, vaccine exemption rates have been extremely high, especially on the West Coast. Rural counties in Northeast Washington have vaccination exemption rates for the whole population above 20 percent and as high as 50 percent in recent years. Vaccinations have literally saved millions of lives, so why would someone choose not to vaccinate?

Some people believe that vaccines can cause more harm than they prevent. No vaccine is completely effective, and there is a very slight chance that someone will come down with the disease the vaccination is meant to prevent.  Because of this, some people think they’re just not worth the risk, not to mention the time or money to get.

In 1998 the British medical journal The Lancet published a theory proposing that vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella could lead to autism. It was believed that the “vaccine overload” – the hypothesis that giving many vaccines at once – may overwhelm a young child’s immune system and lead to autism. This has long since been proven false, not to mention biologically implausible, but many people still believe in delaying vaccinations for their children or not getting them at all.

The advantages of receiving the vaccine far outweigh the arguments against vaccinating. By choosing to opt out of vaccines, you are putting everyone around you in danger. No vaccine can prevent a disease 100 percent, so if an outbreak occurs among unvaccinated people there is a risk of vaccinated people still contracting the disease. There is also a possibility that diseases once extinct could come back again if more people choose not to take the vaccine.

By choosing not to vaccinate your children you are making them susceptible to many diseases.