By Faith Tarpley
Elm Staff Writer
Modern quality of life has been established and maintained through technological advances such as immunizations. Since the late 19th century, vaccines have been streamlined and made available for the general public in order to control the spread of disease.
The rise in the “anti-vaxxer” movement – the idea that it is in the world’s best interest not to get vaccinated – has sparked a nationwide debate. Are vaccinations still necessary in 2015?
According to Lisa Marx, director of health services at Washington College, “vaccine preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, meningitis, polio, diphtheria, and tetanus, continue to be very real public health risk.” In fact, the very first reason to get vaccinated on the National Foundation for Infectious Disease’s (NFID) website is that “vaccine-preventable diseases haven’t gone away.”
Celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy have publicly endorsed unsubstantiated claims that vaccinations can cause conditions such as autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and foundations like Autism Speaks have both publicly stated that no such correlation exists.
Incorrect information about immunizations have permeated news and social media. Such false reports lead to uneducated, harmful decision making. One of the most discussed issues is a parent choosing not to vaccinate his or her children. This decision not only affects their children but also exposes their peers.
Approximately nine million children in the United States remain unvaccinated and unprotected from measles, according to NBC. This issue came to a head earlier this year when nearly 150 children were infected with measles in an outbreak at Disneyland. While most of the children infected had not been vaccinated, some had.
WC senior Elizabeth Conover notes that the danger of infection extends far beyond unvaccinated school children. “There are people who have immune deficiency diseases or cancer and they can’t get vaccines,” said Conover. “We have to get vaccinated to protect those who can’t.”
In addition to safety, there are the issues of economic stability and common decency. “If you have health insurance and choose not to get vaccinated, you have the potential to get someone who is uninsured sick,” said Regan. “That could put a huge strain on taxpayers when those infected and uninsured need to be seen by a doctor.”
The NFID said that in the United States alone “vaccine-preventable infections kill more individuals annually than HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, or traffic accidents. Approximately 50,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
WC, along with most colleges and universities in the United States, requires incoming students to have received a certain number of vaccinations before attending. “In an environment where people are living in close contact with one another, such as residence halls, it is very important to minimize the outbreaks of communicable disease,” said Marx.
While the College has already held it’s pneumonia vaccine clinic, Marx urges anyone who has yet to get their flu shot this season to see a health care professional as soon as possible. “Anyone who wants to get their flu shot is encouraged to go to Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, the Kent County Health Department clinics or your primary care doctor’s office,” said Marx.