Every year, millions of kids go to the doctor’s office. There, they get their check-ups to determine their health. They also receive small “shots”, most of which inject them with weakened forms of viruses that have devastated populations before we found an effective cure and vaccine. They protect us from diseases such as polio, hepatitis B, influenza, whooping cough, and measles, and have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives in recent years, including 732,000 children over 20 years according to the CDC. So, if they help us out so much, how come there is so much controversy over them? WHO is now saying that vaccine hesitancy is now one of the largest threats to global health.
People claim that vaccines can cause countless health issues, including autism, brain damage, and even death. While some people do get hurt or die after getting vaccines, out of the billions of vaccines that have been administered, in 30 years there have only been 6,000 confirmed valid claims of the vaccines causing any harm. Multiple reports that have found connections between autism and vaccines were later redacted over their conclusions or data being incorrect, leading to show the opposite, that there is no connection between the two. Also, vaccines are rigorously and routinely tested to make sure they are safe.
One of the main problems, at least in my opinion, is that few people remember the diseases that we now have vaccines for. Polio and smallpox, once a common fear for everyone, are now practically eradicated from the US! Sadly, since they are gone, so few people remember just how bad they were. They know the symptoms, the results, the dangers, but since they haven’t actually seen it, they aren’t actually that worried since “It isn’t a problem anymore.” However, let’s take the current pandemic, COVID-19. One of the major goals is to get a vaccine for it and then widely, quite possibly mandatorily, administer it. Another possible problem for anti-vaxxers is that they don’t want to be told what to do by the government. However, COVID-19 is making some anti-vaxxers change their mind on the topic. Because they are seeing just how bad this disease is, they want to protect against it. If we had a new outbreak of, say polio, we would probably see a dramatic increase of polio vaccines, as people, now seeing that is a threat, rush to get vaccinated.
Really, the main problem with anti-vaxxers is that they don’t know enough about the topic, or have heard false information. We need to educate people on vaccines and the diseases that we are sheltered from so that people don’t make the wrong decision, and lose their life.