Within recent months, there have been numerous measles outbreaks spanning across Alberta and British Columbia, a disease that is fully preventable with the use of a vaccine. What so many are failing to understand is the fact that an outbreak of this nature doesn’t just happen. A virus that was once declared obsolete doesn’t all of a sudden make a comeback – there has to be a reason behind it. Ultimately, this undisclosed reason falls into the hands of the privileged. These Canadian disease outbreaks start in the homes of affluent mothers who deliberately choose to keep their children unvaccinated. There has to be an acute lack of trust in our medical system in order to continually ignore the importance of vaccines. I don’t want to grow up and raise children in a world where we’re talking about diseases that should be and are able to be eradicated, but still aren’t because of individuals who hold themselves above others. Letting your children be unvaccinated has effects on other people, but anti-vaxxers are too caught up in their own views to understand this, which is one of the most jarring facts of the matter.
What this means for the world is that the ramifications of these individuals own views will not just be contained within their own households. Those with weakened immune systems and the individuals who don’t have the measures required to receive these immunizations are now at a higher risk of being infected, and consequently are at a loss of control in their own health and in the end, their own future. This is where herd immunity comes in. When the majority of the population is vaccinated, it provides safety to those who actually can’t be and this cannot be overlooked. By not vaccinating, the entire concept of herd immunity is defeated.
The time that we are now living in is so controlled by social media, that campaigns riddled with misinformation are still able to propagate themselves around the globe, such as that of the anti-vaxxers. Even hidden within what they deem to be justifications in their campaigns are faults that cannot be overlooked. True, there are individuals who can’t be vaccinated due to medical issues or allergies, but this just gives all the more reason to those who do not live within this minority to immunize their own children in order to provide some resistance to those who actually cannot vaccinate.
When the privileged choose not to vaccinate, they create a slippery slope of adverse effects, all of which could be prevented. We shouldn’t even have to say the names of these eradicated diseases anymore because they are just that: eradicated, or at least they’re supposed to be.
I have a very distinct memory from around Grade 6 when we had to get vaccinations at school. I had spent the entire night researching methods to make shots hurt less. Although I wasn’t sure the entire extent as to why it was so necessary that I receive these vaccinations, I did know that one of my best friends would not be getting vaccinated, as her father was rooted in the belief that such medical treatments would cause his daughter more harm than good. I know how naive such logic is, but stuck in the heat of the moment and being cemented in my own fears of needles, I tried to convince my mom to allow me to opt out of those same vaccinations that I’m now so thankful to have received. All of this because of a small fear, a lack of knowledge and some influence from a close friend.
In such a moment I was fortunate to have parents who were grounded, knew right from wrong and didn’t let a twelve-year-old daughter convince them into doing something she would regret, even if I was quite compelling at times. That being said, there are still so many who don’t have the mindset of my parents.
One of the most important facts that we need to be able to take away from the entirety of the anti-vaccination movement is that correlation does not equate to causation. Going so far back in history, the reasons to be vaccinated were always stacked up against those against it. Although a paper was published linking autism and vaccinations, this has long since been disproven. In fact, Wakefield, the author of the paper even admitted to this fraud and has since been stripped of his medical license. We are no longer in such a time of misinformation and have long since moved past these fallacies. There was a connection between autism and vaccinations, and there were thoughts that immunizations may be useless, but this is not the case and we all need to understand and be aware of this. In the 1950s it was common fact that smoking was good for your lungs but we now know that it actually contributes to over 80% of lung cancer, and this is widely known and accepted. In the age that we now live in, to be of the mindset that these misconceptions remain a reality requires one to live in a complete state of ignorance and to have written off a multitude of layers of evidence and proof from books, online resources and the entirety of the medical community.
Our society shouldn’t have to resort to fear-mongering or pro-immunization propaganda in order to convey the truth. Even if I was still young at the time, the fact that in grade 6 the possibility of remaining unvaccinated was something that I was even considering should say something about where further education on this topic should lie. If you have the means to be immunized but still choose to keep yourself or your children unvaccinated, you are coming from a place of privilege and likely need to fact-check your reasoning. In the end, ignorance is bliss until your child gets the measles and you realize it’s your fault.