By Sara Muharremi
Public safety agencies such as the CDC (Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention) agree that getting vaccinated is essential to keeping yourself, your health, and others around you safe. The more people who are vaccinated, the lower the risk of infectious diseases spreading from person-to-person.
Our immune systems function to protect our bodies against viruses and infections, and vaccines contain particular germs that allow our systems to make antibodies against those germs. So if we come in contact with germs, our bodies will already have the necessary tools to eradicate them. A vaccine trains the immune system to recognize pathogens through the initial introduction of antigens. Antigens are substances that stimulate immune responses, and lymphocytes, in particular, fight infections within white blood cells. The CDC confidently expresses the importance of vaccinations: “Your child might never need the protection vaccines offer, HOWEVER, you don’t want them to be lacking the protection vaccines provide if they ever do need it.”
When babies are born, their bodies’ immunity levels are low in comparison to adults, not to mention, their immune systems are not fully developed. Without a fully developed immune system, it significantly raises the chance that a child will catch diseases such as measles, mumps, meningitis, and polio. To some people, these disease names mean nothing to them, but parents should further educate themselves before deciding whether to vaccinate their children. Measles can go as far as to cause brain swelling, which leads to brain damage and possibly even death. Mumps and meningitis can lead to permanent deafness. To top it off, polio can cause permanent paralysis. These infections can be spread amongst people, or even through the air, and the scariest part is that most of these infections do not have treatments or cures — which make vaccinations absolutely necessary.
Even with all the warnings to vaccinate, some parents are still not vaccinating their children. This can be due to religious reasons (such as rejecting the use of some ingredients in the vaccines), or personal reasons, such as parents being worried about the unnatural essence of chemicals being put into the body. They may also think that experiencing childhood illness will boost immunity. Additionally, even today, some parents go as far as to believe that vaccinations cause early onset autism in their children — a theory that has long been debunked, but is still ingrained into the minds of some parents.
Parents must realize that unvaccinated children can become sick, and some of these illnesses can take a turn for the worse if our immune systems do not have the proper cells, or if our bodies cannot recognize certain pathogens. Unvaccinated individuals do not just pose a risk to themselves and those around them, but to those who are not able to get vaccines for medical reasons, including being elderly and newborn. These people are susceptible to getting illnesses.
My advice to you then — get vaccinated not just for your own good, but for others as well!