Vaccines are a great way to protect individuals and the society against diseases. However, a growing number of people is rejecting vaccination putting their children and themselves in danger. All because of one fraudulent research paper.
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A vaccine is a product that produces immunity from a disease and can be administered through needle injections, by mouth, or by aerosol.
Vaccines work in a simple but effective way. They consist of killed or modified microbes or microbial DNA that trick the body into thinking an infection has occurred.
The immune system attacks the harmless vaccine and prepares for invasions against the kind of microbe the vaccine contained. Then the person becomes immunized and if re-exposure to the infectious microbe occurs, the immune system already knows how to stop the infection. It's that simple.
Vaccines can save lives of children and adults because most childhood vaccines are 90%-99% effective in preventing disease. Vaccines save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases every year.
Now, any vaccine can cause side effects and in a huge number of cases they are minor and go away within a few days. A life-threatening allergic reaction occurs in about one per million children. In plain English, it's close to probability to be killed by an asteroid.
To make that 1 in 1,000,000 even more clear, you have 1 in 90 chance to be engaged in a car accident, 1 in 135,000 to be hit by lightning, and 1 in 60,000 to experience tornado face to face.
So, vaccines are far more safer than everyday's event, yet there is a growing opposition against them. And it grows from a lack of education.
First and foremost, people are worried that vaccine cause autism.
Back in 1998, Andrew J. Wakefield and 12 colleagues proposed that the measles vaccine could cause autism in susceptible children.
But, a number of studies have shown that vaccines do not cause autism. What's more, The Lancet, the journal that published Wakefield's paper, pulled back the Wakefield article in early 2010. So, it is proved beyond doubt that vaccine do not cause autism.
Then, there are fears that vaccines contains compound dangerous for children. But, doses of such "suspicious" elements are so small in vaccines that they are not harmful.
For example, children are exposed to more aluminum in breast milk than they are exposed to in vaccines.
Coma and permanent brain damage, another point of concern, are so rare reactions that causation can't be determined.
Vaccines are some of the safest medical products available because the process of approving is very-well established and what's even more important it is founded by public money - it doesn't depend on corporate money and it is completely corporate-independent.
But, vaccines don't protect just an individual, there is also community immunity or herd immunity. Children and adults who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons are protected if they are surrounded by vaccinated persons.
That leads us to a statement "Many diseases are already non-existent" but this is not exactly so.
A particular disease may be eradicated in one country but it can be present in another. If a traveler gets infected and brings the disease home, the whole domestic population is in danger.
It's enough to recall the fate of the natives around the world who were dying after a contact with the European conquistadors.
Then, vaccines protect future generations because vaccinated mothers protect their unborn children from viruses. Those viruses could cause birth defects.
Just for example: German measles outbreak caused the deaths of 11,000 babies before the vaccine was licensed. Vaccines also eradicated smallpox and once dreadful polio is almost non-existent.
So, why there is a growing number of people opposing vaccination?
They can be divided in two groups: one is religious people who believe that vaccines make their blood dirty; another is uneducated persons.
And for those parents who ask "What if something happens to my child?" the answer is simple: You child has some 10,000 times greater chance to die in a car accident and you are driving her to school every day. Do you think that's clever? ■