A prominent issue facing the public today is anti-vaxx and the repercussions involved. Anti-vaxx is when people will not vaccinate their children due to personal beliefs.
One thing that is very involved in the conversation is herd immunity. Say there is a room of 30 people, but there is a person who cannot receive a vaccine. Involved is a “Disease X”. They cannot receive the vaccine because they are allergic or a number of other reasons. If all of the other 29 people are vaccinated in the room that person will most likely be fine. If 2 other people in the room are unvaccinated by choice then the person who can’t get vaccinated is in a lot more danger. By having most of the people vaccinated against “Disease X” the chances of it infecting the person who can’t get vaccinated go down.
This herd immunity is something that has helped the population for many years. When most of the population is vaccinated against a disease that disease has a lesser chance of becoming an issue. With the recent out breaks of measles in the U.S. the public has become worried about the issues that anti-vaxx poses. To gain more insight on the subject I asked Dr. Julie DeTemple of Family Health Associates of the Kanawha Valley some questions about vaccinations and what anti-vaxx can do to the society.
Dr. DeTemple first stated that “As a family doctor, I encourage patients to receive vaccinations that are appropriate for their age and risk factors.” Dr. DeTemple then proceeded to explain how vaccines work in the following quote: “Vaccines expose the body to a non-infectious portion of the bacteria or virus in question to allow the body to mount an immune response. In turn, if and when you are exposed to the pathogen in the community, you are already immune, and ideally won’t get sick.” From what I could gather vaccines are made to help us become immune to a disease before we are exposed to it.
I then proceeded to ask Dr. DeTemple about anti-vaxxers and how she feels their views have developed. Dr. DeTemple responded by saying “I think the vast majority of anti-vaxxers don’t take into account the rigorous scientific studies that vaccines are put through before they ever came into use, or consider the devastation associated with diseases that are vaccine-preventable. Instead, they rely on anecdotal reports of side effects that are often mistakenly attributed to vaccinations.”
Most of the misinformation on vaccines comes from reports that vaccines cause autism. So I asked Dr. DeTemple if they did. Her response was the following: “No. There have been multiple studies that refute the claim that vaccines cause autism.” She also said that she feels that social media as attributed to the misinformation. “Not everything you read on the internet it fact,” said Dr. DeTemple.
As her final statement Dr. DeTemple said the following: “I hope that people, especially those that are opposed to vaccines, are taking heed to what is happening in other parts of the country where we are seeing a resurgence of vaccine-preventable illnesses. As a physician, it is devastating to see someone suffering from a vaccine preventable illness, especially when they relied on misinformation regarding vaccine safety.”
With disease levels reaching heights not seen in decades the American public is becoming very uneasy about anti-vaxx. While lawmakers are still seeing what needs to be done and studies are still being conducted the public waits to see what will come from those who choose not to vaccinate their children.