by AMBER KELLY Photographer
Although vaccinations have been promoted throughout the years by many health groups, there are currently parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, and not just due to religious or health reasons. Doctors like Jessica Atwell, who have been studying vaccinations for years, believe that parents are making the decision to not immunize their kids based on misinformation.
Vaccinations are made up of a weakened version of a disease, so when injected into the body, a person will have an improved immunity to that disease. Without the vaccination, a person’s immune system will have a harder time fighting off a contracted disease by his or her body.
Some parents fear that vaccines can lead to autism, despite the fact that there is no significant evidence to support this. This belief stems from actress Jenny McCarthy, who spoke out on “Oprah”, saying that she believes vaccines caused her son’s autism. Many parents turn to the internet for answers concerning vaccines, but they are rarely able to separate fact from fiction.
“I don’t think Jenny McCarthy should have gone on ‘Oprah’ saying that a vaccine led to her son’s autism. She doesn’t really have evidence to support this and I think she’s scaring parents and spreading unfounded fears,” says senior Danielle Rutsky.
The problem with less parents getting their kids immunized is that diseases that used to be dormant are now gaining momentum. In Sacramento, California, pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has started to spread.
Pertussis is a disease that mainly affects infants, but teenagers and adults can be carriers of the disease without even knowing it. If a person has pertussis, he or she can infect 13 to 15 other people at a time.
According to the Center for Disease Control, half of all infants with pertussis under the age of one are hospitalized, and two children out of every 100 die.
While it is the parents’ choice whether or not to vaccinate their children, it has been proven to be dangerous to not get these vaccinations, with the outbreak of pertussis being only one example.
In the United States, schools require kids to get vaccinations before entering kindergarten; however, there are ways to get exempt. If a child has a medical issue regarding vaccinations, or if vaccinations go against a family’s religious beliefs, then the child can be exempt. Due to the fact that schools honor these exemptions, parents have begun to falsely claim medical and religious reasons for not getting their children immunized.
If more and more children in school are not immunized, then diseases will be more likely to spread.
“I don’t understand why parents wouldn’t get their kids immunized. There’s risks with everything, and I think it is a bigger gamble to not get vaccinated than to get vaccinated. Vaccinations aren’t just about protecting yourselves or your kids. When you get vaccinated, you decrease the chance that a certain disease will spread among our population,” says senior Jeena Patel.
Vaccinations have been used for decades in the United States, decreasing the number of diseases we encounter; however, opposition still exists. Do you think parents should get their children vaccinated?