It’s important in America that we all have a right to make choices, but what happens when those choices put others at risk? That’s the question on many minds, especially after the recent outbreak of measles that began in Disneyland. This infectious disease was once thought to be eliminated from our society, and has now reared its head with a vengeance.
Yet some families steadfastly stand behind their desire not to vaccinate against measles, putting individuals with lowered immune systems such as babies, the elderly and those from (or traveling to and within) some foreign countries in harm’s way.
What Happens When You Don’t Vaccinate
The problem with exercising this type of choice is that it isn’t a decision that can be made in a vacuum. As in physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Thus, the chain of events for not vaccinating occurs as such:
- A person does not receive his or her MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) booster shots.
- The person later comes in contact with someone with one of these diseases.
- The person may a) develop the disease and/or b) pass it on to others who either haven’t been vaccinated or have a lowered ability to fight off diseases. (There’s a 90 percent chance of someone who hasn’t been vaccinated contracting measles from an infected person.)
This is not a new chart in terms of the transmission of a disease. After all, it happens with other diseases, too, including tuberculosis and strains of influenza. The point is that measles, mumps and rubella have the ability to be wiped from the planet, and yet many individuals stubbornly resist taking action.
The typical arguments – and their rebuttals — against vaccines include:
“Childhood diseases like measles were around when modern adults were children, and they didn’t kill them.” While this may be true, measles is a sometimes fatal condition. Children in the early part of the 20th century got polio, too, but we wouldn’t want them to experience such a fate today.
“Vaccines cause conditions such as autism.” There is absolutely no scientific proof that vaccines do anything but help the body build immunity to specific strains of diseases.
“Vaccines will make you sick with the disease.” Again, vaccines have been developed to prevent diseases, not to make us experience them.
“It isn’t necessary because the body can defend itself.” Not all people have bodies that are healthy enough or strong enough to defend against measles, mumps and chicken pox. In fact, some individuals have systems so compromised that even mild cases of the flu can be deadly.
Do Your Part
While it is understandable to be cautious when it comes to new treatments, vaccines such as the MMR booster shot have been around for decades. Over that period of time, measles eventually became dormant in the United States, thanks completely to the diligence of moms and dads who listened to their pediatricians’ advice.
In order to take charge over this disease once again, and keep it from infecting the population – and potentially causing fatalities – vaccination routines should be treated as a welcome preventive method to keep our societies healthy. Do your part, and make sure your children are vaccinated, in order to help stop the spread of diseases once thought to be eradicated from this country.