David Ropeik makes a powerful argument in favor of more incentives to get vaccinated:
In many places, particularly in affluent, liberal, educated communities (Boulder, San Diego), unvaccinated people are catching diseases that vaccines can prevent, like measles, whooping cough, and meningitis. In 2010 as California suffered its worst whooping cough outbreak in more than 60 years (more than 9,000 cases, 10 infant deaths), Marin County, one of the richest and most educated areas in California, had one of the lowest rates of vaccination statewide and the second highest rate of whopping cough. A 2008 study in Michigan found that areas with “exemption clusters” of parents who didn’t vaccinate their kids were three times more likely to have outbreaks of whooping cough than where vaccination rates matched the state average.
I have friends who refuse to have their children vaccinated usually due to beliefs stemming from their faith in ‘alternative medicine’. While I respect everyone’s right to make their own choices, I strongly disagree with their decision and think it unfounded and even slightly selfish.
If you travel to many third world countries, you are required to get a variety of vaccinations for diseases no longer present in the West. Why do we not have them in the West? Not because we are better at acupuncture and eating vegan food – it’s because we have vaccines that have eradicated them.
I’m not a fan of needles, and I’ve sometimes felt a little sick after being vaccinated, but I’d rather go through a little discomfort than end up fighting for my life with yellow fever or whooping cough.
We are exposed to viruses and bacteria on a daily basis – we get infected and our immune system for the most part learns how to cope with the infection. As we get older, our immune system gets smarter about those specific infections and we are less likely to die or get serious ill from them. Vaccinations simply operate on that basis – we get exposed to a weakened or killed forms of the microbe or its toxins and our immune system learns to fight it so that if exposed to larger amounts of it.
The notion that this is somehow ‘unnatural’ is ridiculous. We are simply tricking the immune system into doing something it has evolved specifically to do.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.