When most of us hear the word vaccination, we probably just think about going to the doctor’s office to get a shot with hopes that it will help us build up enough defenses within our bodies to protect us and to prevent us from catching a certain illness or disease. The overall idea of vaccinations is to provide them to as many people in the entire population as possible in order to best eliminate the possibility of an outbreak of an illness – essentially anything from the flu to something more serious such as the measles. Getting vaccinated is virtually the number one step in prevention of such health conditions, so if a majority of the population is vaccinated, there will be a better chance of keeping dangerous health issues at bay and avoiding major outbreaks that could potentially cause otherwise preventable deaths.
Vaccinations work by imitating a certain infection which helps individuals develop immunity, such as the measles vaccination (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018b). Basically, when you are injected with a vaccination, you receive a solution that acts similar to the infection itself and imitates its characteristics – however, vaccines almost never cause illness, rather at times vaccinations can result in minor symptoms such as fever which should be expected as the body works overtime to build immunity (CDC, 2018b). When vaccinated, the imitated virus causes the immune system within the body to produce defense cells that the body will store, then if the infection they have been vaccinated against tries to enter their body, the body will remember all the cells it created to form immunity against the infection, which will allow the body to fight off the infection (CDC, 2018b).
Measles is a condition that most all of us can be vaccinated against as a prevention measure. Measles is a highly contagious disease that is caused by a virus and is easily spread from person to person through the air when someone coughs or sneezes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018a). Recently in the news and in the light of the anti-vaccination movement, more and more individuals are choosing against vaccinations for themselves or their children for any number of reasons. Due to an increasing number of people refusing vaccinations when they are deemed necessary, it is causing a breech in the immunity against certain diseases – such as measles – and we are observing an increasing number of reported measles cases and health issues. From January 1 to April 11, 2019, 555 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 20 states, with a majority of the cases due to individuals not being vaccinated against the illness (CDC, 2018a).
To further put measles and its vaccination into perspective, with two doses of the vaccine these days the measles vaccine is 97 percent effective (Belluz, J., n.d.). However, to eliminate outbreaks “herd immunity” has to be achieved, and it requires a certain percentage of individuals to be immunized against the illness – and in measles this percentage is typically high because of how contagious of an illness it is (Belluz, J., n.d.). The problem lately is that states are becoming too relaxed related to regulations on vaccinations, whether it is due to religious beliefs regarding vaccinations or other reported health issues that causes individuals to opt out of the vaccination. Unless an individual has a legitimate health issue that would do more harm to them by receiving the vaccination, they honestly should be vaccinated to avoid outbreaks and maintain the “herd immunity.”
Ultimately the deal is, if you choose not to get vaccinated you are inevitably putting yourself at risk for an illness that could result in infecting several other people and possibly lead to death for you and any number of individuals that you pass the infection on to. The anti-vaccination movement is an issue that should not be taken lightly. As a whole, the population needs to continue to be educated on the great importance of vaccinations so that informed decisions can be made when it comes time to vaccinate, rather than just following suit and not getting a vaccination because someone else didn’t. Basically, being vaccinated or not could end up resulting in life or death for you or your loved ones. Next time your due for a vaccination, will you consent or not?