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Mankind has a bad habit of spoiling the fruits of its labor.
Since cavemen first sparked a fire, their proverbial grandchildren have sought to burn themselves on the flame. When the Chinese invented gunpowder in the ninth century, their intention was to use it in fireworks for scaring off ghosts. Now, the powder is used by law enforcement agencies to hunt minorities for sport. The brilliance of plastic as a storage solution has been lost beneath the Texas-sized pile of it floating somewhere in the polluted waters of the Pacific Ocean. Even the television, once valued for its ability to instantly transport information from one corner of the world to the other, now has to be kept from children, with the fear that if left unmonitored, they will probably watch it until they’re retarded.
Yet of all the idiotic ways that innovations have subsided to trends, no example shines brighter than parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. Increasingly, American parents are turning on modern medicine, claiming research (as established as witchcraft) proves vaccinations cause autism, hearing loss, diabetes and seemingly whatever other complaint modern parents have about their kids. And now, these unvaccinated are causing resurgences of deadly viruses—like measles—that vaccines effectively eradicated decades ago.
Once celebrated as a crowning achievement of the sciences, vaccines are still viewed positively by anyone with a legitimate education. Since their advent in the early 1800s, vaccines have successfully eradicated smallpox, as well as put six additional diseases under control, including measles. Prior to vaccines, having a child perish or become permanently disabled as a result of an ailment was common, even in Western nations like the United States.
Thus, vaccines are vital to a nation’s well being. Charitable organizations, like the Red Cross and Gates Foundation, continue to provide vaccines for children in developing nations, leading to drastically reduced child mortality rates . As a result, these nations have a greater chance at economic prosperity—it’s much easier to teach a classroom of students when they aren’t confined to iron lungs.
So, if there are countries in the world whose governments have their arms wide open accepting vaccinations, what would possibly compel some suburban mother to reject the very innovation that has helped fuel a century of global growth? Unfortunately, the actual cause of the anti-vaccination movement is as full of shit as the modern justifications.
In 1998, a doctor by the name of Andrew Wakefield published a study in the British medical journal, The Lancet, that reportedly established a tangible link between autism and vaccinations. While Wakefield’s claims were quickly disproved as fraudulent by a multitude of other researchers and scientific organizations, the damage was already done. Overprotective parents now had a reason to believe they could prevent autism in their children by avoiding vaccinations. Regardless of countless instances of disproving Wakefield’s work, and regardless of the CDC deeming vaccines as safe and effective in the long term as the air we breath, people will still make decisions based on less logic and more emotion.
In all 50 states, public schools legally require vaccinations for students, but the rule can be flimsy. To bypass, parents need only to provide personal beliefs (in 21 states) or religious reasoning (in all but two). Then, it’s just a brief paper trail before unvaccinated Arthur is rubbing his measles-riddled hands all over your little Lyle. Lyle might contract the disease regardless of being vaccinated, because like contraceptives or other medical devices you pray will work 100 percent of the time, the effectiveness of vaccines can vary.
Choosing not to vaccinate your kids is a lot like driving drunk. Driving aside, it would be totally acceptable for you to saunter about your property in a blackout state of inebriation—a state ironically similar to the mental capabilities of most unvaccinated kids’ parents. Yet because of the amount of mobility involved in driving—in other words, because of other drivers—the true tragedy of drunk driving is often at the expense of someone innocent, and thus, it’s illegal.
In my mind, the same principles should apply for choosing not to vaccinate your children. If you wish to turn your own child into an empty vessel for infectious diseases, power to you. But the moment that you let your child interact with others, vaccinated or not, you put them at equal risk. Sharing the consequences of your ill logic is the true danger of not vaccinating your kids. At least if it’s an unvaccinated child who is exterminated by a preventable sickness, it’s safe to assume that child wasn’t much of a wasted mind, as no parent maintaining even minute intelligence would choose not to vaccinate their kid.
Contact Assistant Opinion Editor Sam Schanfarber at firstname.lastname@example.org.