Anti-vaccine propoganda can potentially put other children at risk

The beginning of the flu season often starts to increase in October and November and peak between December and February, lasting as late as May, generating an outcry from “concerned” parents about the safety of vaccinations. Although anti-vaccination activists have made a special appearance on social media, this controversial topic is old news. 

Critics of vaccinations have taken on various positions from political, scientific, sanitary and religious reasons. Opposition of the smallpox vaccination in the 1800s in England and the U.S. became the frontrunner of anti-vaccination groups. English physician and scientist Edward Jenner was the pioneer for the smallpox vaccine, the world’s first vaccine. According to historyofvaccines.org, Jenner’s cowpox experiments showed he could protect a child from smallpox if he infected him or her with lymph, a colorless fluid containing white blood cells from a cowpox blister. 

Parents became fearful and protested  Jenner’s vaccine, because it included the impaling of the child’s flesh. Vaccinations also interfered with people’s religious values, being referred to as “un-Christian” because the remedy essentially came from an animal. During the 19th century and the development of the American government and modern medicine, there became a wave of distrust and violated personal liberties as the government mandated vaccine policies. The Vaccination Act of 1853 ordered mandatory vaccinations for infants up to three months old and, in 1867, the age requirement was extended to the age of 14 with penalties for those who refused to get them. This caused immediate resistance and, in response, movements such as the Anti-Vaccination League and the Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League. 

In 1896, the commission ruled that citizens must obtain an exemption certificate for refusing to vaccinate. 

Fast forward 123 years and we are still dealing with a similar situation even as modern medicine evolved. The only difference now is that news travels and travels fast. Anti-vaccine activists propose vaccines can cause autism and other neurological conditions with little to no evidence. 

According to Vox, Facebook announced “It’ll seek out and limit the spread of anti-vaccine hoaxes on its network and also stop showing pages and groups featuring anti-vaccine content or suggesting users to join them.”

Youtube has also has taken the initiative by ceasing ads and Youtube channels promoting anti-vaccine propaganda. 

According to CNN, Amazon has apparently started removing anti-vaccine documentaries from its Amazon Prime Video streaming service. “Rep. Adam Schiff wrote an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, saying he is concerned ‘that Amazon is surfacing and recommending’ anti-vaccination books and movies,” according to CNN.

 Schiff feared Amazon was recommending consumers to anti-vaccinations with advertising propaganda films and books. 

CNN reported at least 206 measles outbreaks in 11 states but legislators are introducing bills that make it easier for people to opt out of vaccines. 

According to American Academy of Pediatrics, “At least 20 states have introduced bills this year that would broaden the reasons why parents can exempt kids from getting vaccines even if there isn’t a medical need require and doctors to provide more information on the risks of vaccines.”

Despite the naysayers and bills that are introduced but not enacted, vaccines are still the cause of three million lives prevented from disease related deaths, according to The World Health. 

Sophomore biology major Amelia Peter said, “Every child needs to be vaccinated. Even though people may think that vaccinations are not safe, kids have been protected by these vaccinations from very preventable diseases.” 

Rider’s Health Center was not available to comment.  

January to February 2019 is on track to be the worst year for measles since 1992. According to the New York Times, public officials and health experts have given several warnings to school districts about not allowing a student in school if they had not been vaccinated against measles. In March, a school in Brooklyn ignored the advice and it resulted in one student infecting at least 21 others with the virus. 

Anti-vaccine supporters have yet to offer up alternatives to remedy potential illnesses. Instead of stirring up criticism and controversy, how about offering substitutes that you have found useful for your child? Parents need to take into consideration that they are not only putting their own children at risk but other children their kids come in contact with. What about those children? These parents are allowed to do what they see fit for their child, but it is selfish to exclude the public’s health when they decide not to vaccinate their children. 

Qur’an Hansford 

journalism major

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