This year some schools in Kansas added two new vaccines to the list required for enrollment. Students entering kindergarten will now need to have two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine, and seventh graders will be required to have a single dose of the meningitis vaccine, meningococcal. However, like always, with new vaccines come with new complaints from the community against vaccines, known as anti-vaxxers.
When the additional vaccinations were added to the list, it wasn’t without a response from an anti-vax group. Even though the group boasts of over 1,000 members, only a few dozen people protested at the state hearing over the two additions. These members claim that vaccines can cause mental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and that they can also cause your child to fall ill and die. However, such allegations have not been scientifically proven; they’ve actually been scientifically disproven. Sources such as vaccinesafety.gov confirm that none on the antigens located in vaccinations have been linked to the causation of ASD, let alone cause the amount of deaths the protesters are describing.
The news of the new requirements broke shortly before the outbreak of meningitis in Ireland, which caused the death of three people. Meningitis is a disease known to kill in extreme cases, and as such the addition of the vaccine to the master list is a smart idea. It will theoretically avoid any future outbreaks, and help keep children from dying from an extremely preventable disease. However, this argument seems to go over the heads of some anti-vaxx members, who say it is their right to choose whether or not they vaccinate their children.
There are a few flaws in this argument immediately. Firstly, it completely ruins the idea of “herd immunity.” This phrase simply implies that a large group of people who are vaccinated are safe from most diseases such as meningitis. However, by people in the group not becoming vaccinated it opens the entire population up to these extremely preventable diseases. Some children are born with lowered immune systems and therefore can’t receive vaccinations in the first place. These children are highly susceptible to the diseases surrounding them, and being surrounded by children who can also catch the disease is opening them up to more risks.
Despite constant reassurances that vaccines are practically danger free, many parents still refuse to vaccinate their children. Sure, vaccines aren’t 100% risk free. Like any form of modern medicine, on the rare occasion someone will have an extreme reaction to a vaccine and die from it. However, the number of reported deaths from vaccines is so low that vaxopedia.org can’t assess it statistically. Apparently, more anti-vaxx parents are afraid of their child having ASD than dying from a disease. Not only is this mentality completely outrageous, it’s straight up dangerous.
Additionally, health sites aren’t the only ones that want to push the knowledge of vaccines. When you look up #antivaxx on Instagram or Facebook, you are greeted with a popup that asks “Looking for Vaccine Info?” and leads you to CDC.gov, the website for Centers of Disease Control. Even social media wants people to get vaccinated. If Instagram is aware of the dangers that come with not vaccinating children, why aren’t some parents?
If we take a step back from the clouded view of the anti-vax community we can see the attempts they’ve made at converting others to their ignorance. At the end of September anti-vaxers took to the streets, literally. A group in California paid to have a billboard put up in KCK expressing their feelings about vaccines. The board showed a photo of a baby with the phrase “As a nurse I was never taught vaccines can kill until my son was a victim.” However, the board didn’t seem to last long, as a few days later it was vandalized to read “Vaccines save, disease kills.”
These attempts at spreading the belief of anti-vax don’t seem to be the most effective. However, despite this, the Kansas anti-vax group wants to assure people that their numbers are growing. Brandy Vaugan, a former Merck sales executive turned “natural health activist” encourages parents to assure they are given the “full information about all pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines” before giving them to their kids, even if it means doing your own research. Because as we all know, a wikipedia page is far more knowledgeable than your doctor.
Whether you believe in the absurd claims from the anti-vax community or not, there’s one thing that needs to be said. Please, for the love of all that is good, get vaccinated.