- World Health Organization declared the anti-vaxxer movement a major threat to public health.
- The United States continues to be the country with the greatest population supporting the anti-vaxxer movement.
- The four typical reasons anti-vaxxer (parent or guardian) usually say when asked about why they refuse to vaccinate their children are: religious beliefs, personal beliefs, safety, and lack of information about the vaccination.
We currently live in a country where it seems that the most important issues for every individual is freedom of speech and to have full capability of making decisions regarding any topic. These individuals might think that these choices only affect them, but the reality is that they might seriously impact our communities. An important topic being discussed right now is the need for vaccinations with anti-vaxxers pushing for the elimination of mandatory or even recommended vaccines. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccination is one of the most cost-effective health interventions available, saving millions of people from illness, disability, and death each year. WHO also declared the anti-vaxxer movement a major threat to public health.
Several diseases have been eradicated globally for years due to advances in medicine and vaccination campaigns; however, we are now seeing a resurgence of diseases coming back. The most dangerous aspect of these diseases are mutations, which makes them slightly different than what they used to be, creating new diseases. This could potentially result in a brand-new pandemic as new vaccines would need to be created. The creation of a new vaccine could take months if not years to develop, test, and mass produce. This length of time could lead to numerous fatalities.
Currently, the United States continues to be the country with the greatest population supporting the anti-vaxxer movement. While it is true that in the United States vaccination is not mandatory in any state, it is also true that we have seen an increase of disease outbreaks that were once eradicated. Problems arise when an anti-vaxxer (parent or guardian) states that it is their legal right to choose not to vaccinate their children and yet these children go to public schools. With the same train of thought, the pro-vaccination (parent or guardian) also has the right to not have his/her child seated close to the non-vaccinated child as they feel their kid’s health are endangered. Then, there is the “hesitant individual,” and as the name indicates they are not completely decided one way or the other. The four typical reasons anti-vaxxer (parent or guardian) usually give when asked about why they refuse to vaccinate their children are: religious beliefs, personal beliefs, safety, and lack of information about the vaccination. However, the main reason parents give when confronted, is their belief in the now disproven study that vaccinations can cause autism. This concern was eliminated when Thimerosal was removed from vaccines intended for children under 6 years of age in 2001. When living in society and as a member of the community, the most basic rule should be to respect and avoid jeopardizing anyone’s safety.
As technology has improved and any person can send their comments, posts, or tweets on their beliefs, the anti-vaxxer movement has expanded to other predominantly advanced continents. Legislation at both the state and federal levels, seems to be the best way to try to stop the spread of preventable diseases. In the European continent, some countries have moved to expand and enforce vaccine mandates, punishing families with child abuse and/or even murder if their kids are injured or die from a vaccine preventable disease. While the number of infected people with measles continues to rise in the United States in 2019, Washington State and New York have attempted to take steps to assist in preventing this outbreak with fines and bans from public areas. In Australia, parents that have not provided their children with government recommended vaccines are not eligible for governmental benefits (financial incentives) related to child care. Additionally, in Australia, pre-school and daycare facilities are also punished with a large fine if they enroll children that are not vaccinated.
It is simply incredible that developing/third world countries are doing everything possible to get people vaccinated as they have seen first-hand lower death rates and yet first world countries seem to be going the opposite way. As the WHO said “In the 21st century, every child has the right to live free from vaccine-preventable diseases, but these diseases still pose significant threats. Consequently, strengthening immunization remains vital.” In the United States, should it be considered negligence, therefore punishable by law, if a child dies from a disease that could be prevented by taking a vaccine? Should parents who fail to vaccinate their child be held responsible for medical restitution and/or liability for wrongful deaths? Should this not be a federal mandate under a Presidential emergency declaration?