The backlash against vaccines is disrespectful to the work of scientists


Emma Kolesnik

Scientists and activists like the “smallpox warriors” gave future generations a gift


Scientists and activists like the “smallpox warriors” gave future generations a gift that should not be wasted by refusing to vaccinate. Credit: Lucy Knowles/The Foothill Dragon Press

Our modern world has come with many incredible developments. We can fly across the world, we have food readily available to us, and we no longer have to spend our lives surrounded by disease. Vaccines have kept the most devastating of diseases at bay. In countries like the United States, many of us have never experienced the negative effects of diseases.

We have become out of touch with disease, and this has led to us forgetting what tragedy they can cause. Many of us take our disease-free world for granted.

One hundred years ago, when smallpox and polio were still at large, no one could think of a better invention than vaccines.  Many scientists worked for years to perfect vaccines and they have succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. After so much successful effort by scientist like Louis Pasteur or Jonus Salk, why would we turn our back on them now?

This success has led us to a place of complacency.  Thoughts of “being natural” or “anti-drug” are larger in the minds of some parents than paralysis by polio or death by smallpox.  

Curious about some of the logical fallacies that are used to justify not vaccinating? Check out Emma’s article “Misconceptions about vaccinations harm all of us.”

The “supposed” debate that is going on in America is belittling the hundred plus years of science that has improved life expectancy all over the world.

One example of how strongly people believed in the life-saving potential of vaccines occurred in a small group of “young idealists nicknamed the ‘smallpox warriors.’” They travelled the world with the vaccine in a global eradication program and by 1980, smallpox was eradicated.  This is considered one of the “greatest triumphs of global public health.”  

Smallpox, which used to kill up to 30 percent of its victims, is gone. Vaccines are one of the greatest human developments of all time, yet people who have not seen or experienced firsthand the effects of disease outbreak are not instilled with the same fundamental appreciation for them.

By questioning the positive effects of vaccines and their necessity we undermine the time and effort put into them. Many “smallpox warriors” came down with the disease themselves, risking their own lives, to make the world safer for future generations. They accomplished something huge. As the future generations, we cannot turn our backs on their work. We should have an appreciation for the gift that was bestowed upon us. 

Some argue that vaccines are made by large corporations that are trying to make money off Americans. The internet has created a conspiracy scare that Big Pharma and Big Medicine want vaccines legislated because they want to sell dosages. However, we have to consider that America is a capitalist society.

All companies in America are trying to make a profit, but this does not mean that they are not heavily regulated and checked. Vaccines can produce money, but why should that affect our opinion of them? World-wide pharmaceutical companies make just a few percent of their total sales from their vaccines.   

We don’t expect anyone to make something that they don’t profit from. Just because pharmaceutical companies make a profit doesn’t mean we don’t need vaccines. Pharmaceutical companies are not “out to get us.”

We as Americans also need to consider that vaccines are not solely used in our country, but are used globally. This creates a heavy system of safety assurance.

We take vaccines for granted, and this has caused the need to introduce legislation to ensure vaccination. Vaccines have been so successful that many of us see no need to get them anymore. When our friends and family are not dying from diseases, in our minds we have no motivation or reasoning to get vaccinated.

After the highly-publicized measles outbreak that started in Disneyland last December, many states, including California, are taking a look at vaccination exemptions. Many states allowed parents to claim “personal reasons” or “religious beliefs” exemptions without first being educated about the facts first. Last week, a bill was introduced in California that would require almost all children to be vaccinated before attending school.

We should not have to convince parents of the positive effects of vaccination. If we want to continue to be safe from disease, we have to continue to vaccinate. We need to realize how lucky we are to be safe from many diseases.

Around the world, there are still many countries and cities where vaccines are a luxury and children die daily of preventable diseases. Out of respect to the citizens of these countries, we should take advantage of our easy access to health care. Not so long ago, we also had life-altering diseases rampant in our country. When we think of vaccines there should be no thought in our minds except for how lucky we are to have them. 

Refusing to get vaccinated reverses the hard work of so many people who sought to save human life and better society. We have amazing opportunities available to us, and we cannot allow ourselves to take that for granted.

What do you think?