By Andrew Deluca
Okay, so let’s get some stuff out of the way; I’m not a doctor. I hope I will be one someday, but I’m not one now. However, I am someone who’s done enough research about vaccines over the past few years to be somewhat qualified to scream and yell at people when they say inaccurate information that sounds like the first result on a Google search of “Do vaccines cause autism?” This search will subsequently lead to to Google searches like “My child’s coughing his lungs up, what do I do?” or “I’m too embarrassed to tell my doctor that my child is sick because I didn’t follow their instructions, how can I say that this is their fault?” or “How much are infant coffins?” You can tell how savage this is going to be from the start, right?
In the time that I have existed on this planet, which is less than two decades, I have experienced anger: I’ve had toys taken out of my hands by older relatives, people have left me when I needed them most and I have seen injustice dealt. All of these feelings are valid and they cannot be ranked, yet one of the most common and most specific forms of my anger is specifically concentrated and defined toward those who debunk centuries of research through experimentation via trial and error. Those that effectively smother the contributions of lives toward the saving of others. Those that do not vaccinate their kids because they think that it will mess them up in some way, shape or form. Let’s discuss what these ways, shapes and forms are, along with why they’re not true.
One of the major discussions that I hear about vaccines is that they’re not necessary because we have an immune system. We can do this on our own; we don’t need vaccines to help us out if we have an immune system to stomp on any diseases that come by! Well, we do need vaccines because of the nature of our immune system. Our immune systems are essentially comprised of two parts: the adaptive system and the innate system. The innate system is what everyone’s referring to when they discuss how we don’t need vaccines because something is stomping out the diseases already, as the innate system’s job is to remember the disease that infected the human body and produce the antibodies necessary to combat it. But this can only happen in the first place with the contribution of the adaptive system. The adaptive system is the system that first sees the infection and produces the antibodies to counter the infection. Only after being exposed to the disease can the antibodies be produced to stop it, and only after the adaptive system has been set into motion can the innate system also be set into motion. We need vaccines because our immune system can’t do it on its own.
I’m sure that everyone has heard this phrase at least once in their lives: “vaccines cause autism”. Yeah, they don’t. How could that even be possible in the first place? Sure, there’s an increase in children getting vaccines. And sure, there’s an increase in children developing (notice how I didn’t say “contracting”) autism. But we’re all forgetting one of the biggest rules of scientific experimentation and analysis of data to determine a result: correlation does not imply causation. This means that just because some data points may be similar, they do not imply that one directly impacts the other. There’s been an increase in internet usage as well as an increase of vaccine usage. Following the logic of vaccines causing autism, we could also argue that the internet causes autism.
We have yet to discuss why the parents of America had their panic attacks about vaccines causing autism in the first place, so let’s do that now. Dr. Andrew Wakefield, whom I am ashamed to share my first name with, is the main person responsible for all of this mess. He almost single-handedly created the biggest medical hoax of the 21st century by convincing a portion of the world that vaccines cause autism in infants and adolescents. However, he neglected to think about how the scientific community would respond to this “discovery.” Dr. Wakefield was found to have used invasive and inappropriate methods while conducting this experiment, and he ended up falsifying most of his data, therefore making it impossible to reproduce. When he was discovered, he was stripped of his license to practice. But the damage had already been done. The rumor among the scientific community and among parents began to spread: vaccines might cause autism!
So let’s neglect everything for a moment. Forget everything I just said for the next thirty seconds as you ponder this question: even if vaccines did cause autism, would you prefer your child to die from completely treatable and potentially curable diseases than see them become mildly autistic?
Let’s say that you would prefer your child to die. What about the other children that your grimy little kid will be around? Viruses and diseases spread quickly. They evolve quickly. Herd immunity is very much a real thing that you’re contributing to or hindering when you vaccinate or don’t vaccinate your kids, so let’s talk about it.
Herd immunity is the concept of protection of the weaker thanks to the fortification of the stronger. Say your child has cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy and can’t have vaccines because they would literally kill your child because their immune system is mush from radiation. Or, say it’s something simpler, like your child being allergic to one specific type of vaccine: meningitis, tetanus or even polio. Your child cannot be vaccinated for that virus/disease, and you’re afraid for your child’s life when flu season comes around, because their body is incapable of producing antibodies to prevent the death of this virus. But, all the children in your child’s class got vaccines, and they’re protected. They won’t get sick, so your child also won’t get sick. It’s the same deal the other way around: your child was vaccinated, so another child won’t get sick, because it could potentially be life-threatening if they did get sick.
I would like to conclude by saying a few things about the morality of vaccines. For over two hundred years we have been vaccinating children and adults in at least some ways. People have given their lives towards the prevention and cure of diseases that have kept the human race alive today without any major epidemics. However, there is a rising fear now of children contracting measles again (when we had almost eradicated it) because parents aren’t vaccinating their children for it. Let that sink in. Children are dying of completely preventable diseases because their parents refuse to vaccinate them. And then they spread that disease to other children that also weren’t vaccinated, and before you know it we have another epidemic on our hands that could have been easily prevented.
I understand if you don’t want to poison your children with the advancement of western medicine, so allow me to make a suggestion: pull your children out of school, homeschool them and prevent any disease they will contract from getting around any other children by keeping it in your household. If the disease comes, pray it away. Also, if you’re going to that length, don’t pay for health care, just don’t. And don’t listen to the evil apothecary that is your doctor/pediatrician. What good do they know? They make mistakes, too! They haven’t gone to school for 4+ years to be qualified to say these things, and they don’t have a community of medical professionals behind them to prove/deny anything that they say!
So if you picked up on my sarcasm in the last paragraph, good for you. Here’s something you can do if you’re still concerned: go and talk to your doctor/pediatrician. Tell them that you’ve heard about the danger that is linked with vaccines and request some external reading or data from some studies about vaccines. Ask to be told about how vaccines work, what they do for the human body, the contents of the vaccines you’re being injected with and what they do. Don’t be afraid to show signs of curiosity. They’ll probably be happier that you’re asking them about it rather than Google.
People smarter than you and I have been working to develop vaccines and antibiotics and treatments and cures for centuries. Please don’t be stupid by skipping your vaccine this year, or spreading false information that spreads fear or stop taking your antibiotics because you feel better. Bacteria evolve when people don’t take their antibiotics for the full period of time. Not all the bacteria were killed, and the bacteria that remain now have the genetic coding to resist that antibiotic in the future so another type of antibiotic has to be developed, which could take a while. Do be a concerned member of your society by taking action about vaccines and by requesting information to make a more educated conclusion, but do so appropriately and responsibly by talking to the people in your area that know more about it.
Please, I’m begging all of you. Let’s end this discussion now. We’ve known the correct answer for decades. Just let it go and vaccinate your kids.