One of today’s “first world problems” is deciding whether or not to be vaccinated or to vaccinate one’s child. One would think that if people have the opportunities to be vaccinated for dangerous, life threatening diseases, choosing to be vaccinated would be a no brainer. However, an increasing amount of people have chosen not to vaccinate themselves or their children due to fears of harmful side effects, such as autism and even death. However, these fears are misguided and people should be vaccinated when given the chance.
Unreasonable concerns that vaccinations cause autism increased when a study published by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British physician, suggested a link between the administration of vaccines and the development of autism. However, Dr. Wakefield’s findings were discredited in 2004 and formally retracted in 2010, and he was then banned from practicing medicine in Britain by the General Medical Council in the United Kingdom.
Nonetheless, celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy used his studies to promote their anti-vaccination campaign.
Due to celebrity advocation, many people believed Dr. Wakefield’s studies. According to a study by The Anti-Vaccine body Count, there were 39,199 preventable illnesses and 6,265 preventable deaths since 2007, the year many people began speaking out against vaccines.
There were also no cases of autism diagnoses scientifically linked to vaccinations in that same period of time. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the Institute of Medicine have also stated that there is most likely no correlation between autism and vaccines.
Another claim against vaccinations is the risk of complications from the vaccine. However, severe allergic reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at less than one in a million doses. Ultimately, the risks of getting vaccinated are insignificant compared to the benefits and prevention of disease. Thus, many people should get vaccinated in order to prevent life threatening diseases. Although fear of complications from the vaccine is understandable, it is better to take the infinitesimal risk and live, rather than be one of the thousands of preventable deaths.