Vaccines, A Necessity for the Future

Augustus Cote, Opinion Contributor

Measles, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, smallpox: these are some of the many contagious diseases that can infect you and those around you. In recent years, people have debated whether or not vaccines are safe for children and whether or not children should be required to be vaccinated. The answers to these questions are right in front of us: vaccines are safe for children and they should be required by federal law to be vaccinated.

One of the most commonly debated questions is if vaccines entirely risk-free? Vaccines are indeed safe and most of the confirmed side effects of vaccines are minor and extremely rare. This is because huge medical organizations like the CDC, FDA, and others constantly test vaccines to maintain that standard.

Additionally, the creation of a law that requires children to be vaccinated would increase the level of herd immunity. Herd immunity is the percentage of people who have been vaccinated within a community. It can decrease the likelihood of an outbreak within a community which protects those such as infants and the elderly who cannot get vaccinated. In 2012, an outbreak of whooping cough infected 42,000 people all because in 2011, 49 US states did not meet the 92-94% herd immunity threshold. Having a law that requires communities to vaccinate their children would prevent such outbreaks.

Like other pharmaceutical products, vaccines do come with some risks. Over the recent years, negative publicity has painted a dark picture for vaccines. This publicity has insinuated that vaccines cause developmental disabilities along with fatal side effects. There are also those who are against the idea of required vaccination. They believe that the government should not intervene in personal medical choices. They argue that people in a free society should be sovereign over their own bodies and by giving the government the right to enforce required vaccination, the people are forced to give up some of their freedom.

However, now is the time we need to act. We need to prevent future outbreaks and loss of life by requiring vaccinations. We need to ignore the naysayers and push to make vaccination a law that requires that all parents vaccinate their children. We must make this a reality to protect infants and the elderly, who are the most vulnerable. We must prevent future outbreaks. We must follow the evidence proven by companies that test and reject the voice of the few who feel that their rights have been infringed upon. Vaccinations are a must, not a choice.