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Marco Polio: A Life Without Vaccinations

By Sophia Sullivan

A new controversial topic in today's society is not one you would expect: vaccinations. It is the misguided idea that vaccinations harm us more than help us, from causing autism to outright government mind control. This movement has even been pushed by many celebrities. Of course, there has been criticism of vaccines, like all things, but this new movement advocates a complete cessation to the use of vaccines. The anti-vaccine movement goes way farther back then Jenny McCarthy and Oprah Winfrey.

In 19th century Great Britain, a law was passed making it mandatory for parents to vaccinate their children. Since the Black Death killed 30-60% of the European population prior to the discovery of vaccines, this law makes sense. Opposition developed despite common sense, forming an Anti-Vaccination League in London, arguing that in enforcing vaccinations, the government was violating the people's civil liberties. Later, Parliament repealed the act and disease rates did not decrease. In more modern times, a British doctor and researcher claimed there was a link between the MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine and autism. His study was extremely limited. It only tested 12 people and was biased. He was also receiving money from an anti-vax organization. Multiple studies proved he was lying and criticized him for spreading misinformation.

The goal of vaccines are to immunize whole societies, to reach herd immunity. The idea is we all live so close now that disease spreads unbelievably fast (like we saw during the Black Plague). We want everyone to be healthy against diseases that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Declining vaccine rates have many repercussions as seen in multiple western countries. During the 2000’s in the US, the immunization rates dropped 2%. Although this number seems small, it is a great number of people with even greater effects. As these rates are dropping, the most well known breakout of measles occured in 2014-2015, originating in Anaheim, CA and infecting 125 people. According to the CDC there have already been 314 cases of measles this year, and in 3 months there have been more cases then all of 2010-2012 combined. This disease was previously considered nearly wiped out. Former California Governor Jerry Brown passed a bill outlawing public school students ability to use religious or personal exemptions from vaccines, stating "the science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases."

Vaccines were created to help society, to help people live long and happy lives. It is sad to see people following absurd lies that have been disproved by many studies. This movement is putting its followers, their children, and other people in danger. We, as an advanced society, need to curb the anti-vaccination movement. We cannot let eradicated diseases come back over false ideas.


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