What Is The Anti-Vax Movement and Why Is It So Dangerous

Sahithi Jammulamadaka , Editor-in-Chief

   On Jan. 25, 2019 the governor in Washington declared a state of emergency because of the resurgence of measles, and at the time there were fifty-five cases and the number has risen to seventy-seven. One common point between 90% of the cases is that they’re unvaccinated children under 10 years old. So this raises a major question: how harmful could the anti-vaccination movement really be?

   Vaccinations are defined as biological preparations that improve immunity to particular diseases. They introduce the body to a weaker form of a disease so it can make the proper antibodies, so when the actual virus comes, the body has the means to defend itself. Everything from polio to the flu has a vaccination to prevent people from getting infected. The whole point of them is to keep the person safe but also the concept of herd immunity. Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune. The people who usually aren’t immune are people who have severe allergies to vaccinations and absolutely cannot take them. These are the people that are most worried about the anti-vax movement because if there are people who are able to get vaccines and aren’t, they can easily infect someone who is unable to get a vaccination.

   Majority of the people who make up this movement are parents who are concerned for the safety of their kids. They are worried about the side effects that come with getting a vaccine, and how badly it could affect their child. But a lot of the time its parents who trusted the wrong sources when it came to vaccine information and now have a fear instilled in them. The people who sell the vaccine fear are professionals in the art of deception. They know exactly how to convince a worried parent that the most dangerous thing in the world for their child is the vaccine, rather than, say, the measles.

   One of the most common reasons why parents are worried to give their child vaccines is the myth that vaccines cause autism. Multiple studies have proven that there is no correlation between vaccines and autism but vaccinated children are known to develop autism at the same rate as unvaccinated children. Avoiding vaccines because of this persisting myth is dangerous, and while it won’t prevent a child from getting autism, it also won’t protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases that can challenge their health and be spread to others.

   Another common argument against vaccinations is that the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) is lying. People claim that the CDC is ‘in the pocket’ of Big Pharma, which is simply untrue. The people working in the CDC are honest and dedicated people, but for the sake of argument, let’s say they are corrupt, so what? The people who focus mainly on the CDC ignore one truth, that the US isn’t the only country in the world. There hundreds of other public health organizations that support the use of vaccinations. So either there is one massive global conspiracy including countries that are war with one another or getting immunized is a good thing.

  Choosing not to get vaccinated or not to vaccinate your child can have many dangerous consequences. The measles outbreak in Washington will be the first of many if people don’t step up to save themselves and others from deadly diseases. Vaccines save more than 42,000 lives per year in the US alone, so immunize and prevent the preventable.