The student news website of Omaha Central High School

Anti-Vaccination Movement: A deadly Epidemic

February 26, 2019

 

The anti-vaccination movement continues to give leeway to outbreaks of diseases that can be almost completely eradicated by modern medicine. As of November 2018, the Federal Health Office confirmed over 100 cases of a polio-like condition called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), a serious illness that causes muscle weakness and can lead to paralysis. AFM cases have been found in children around the age of four years old.  

It only takes one person to become infected with a deadly disease for it to turn into a mass-murderous outbreak. Immunizations can save lives because of medical advancements that have been made since disease outbreaks such as rubella, diphteria, Hib, and rotavirus.  

However, vaccination rates in some American cities are starting to decline thanks to this ever-growing anti-vaccination movement. One of the biggest states in this epidemic being in Texas where over 57,000 students have been exempted from vaccinations for non-medical reasons. Texas is near the bottom ranked in terms of adolescent girls getting their HPV vaccination, a vaccination that prevents cervical cancer.  

Currently, there are 18 states in the nation that allow vaccinations to be exempted because of factors ranging from conscientious objectors or personal/philosophical beliefs. Some states that allow this exemption include Oregon, Idaho, Colorado and Arkansas.  

The increased rise of vaccination exemptions has caused a measles outbreak in Minnesota, where there were over 8,2500 children exposed to the virus and 70 confirmed cases. Of course, most children were able to avoid getting infected with measles because they were vaccinated. A measles outbreak also occurred in Missouri and New York. Additionally, the flu caused 200 deaths of unvaccinated children.  

Vaccines have saved the lives of millions, so it is hard to understand the opposition of anti-vaxxers. The modern anti-vaccination movement traces back to a falsely linked MMR (the vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella) to autism. Although the correlation between the two has been proven to have no merit, the damage remains.  

Throughout history, the spread of diseases has proved how destructive no vaccinations can be. For example, the black plague that wiped out a third of Europe, the Spanish flu, the deadly influenza pandemic in 1918 that resulted in 675,000 American deaths and, most recently, the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 that killed 12,469 Americans. Although extremely deadly, the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 was nowhere near as devastating as the Spanish flu pandemic ,which also consisted of an H1N1 subtype, because of the modern medical advancements that have been made within the last 100 years.  

Still, the Anti-vaccination movement continues without a factual basis. Not only is it harmful for those who participate in the movement, but also to others around those.  

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