The history behind infectious diseases is terrifying. Vaccines were created out of necessity; people were dying in mass quantities. In fact, it was the number one killer of humans. The first successful vaccine was developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner and used cowpox to create immunity to smallpox.
The prospect of eradicating viruses was groundbreaking at the time and as the scientific community continued to advance, so did their knowledge of these diseases. In the 1930s a group of other vaccines and antitoxins were developed for: diphtheria, tetanus, typhoid, anthrax, cholera, plague and tuberculosis among others.
Eventually, scientists were able to develop vaccines for childhood diseases such as polio, measles, mumps and rubella and now even chicken pox. These vaccines brought the rate of transmission to historic lows or even temporary eradication. It saves children from dealing with very painful and even fatal symptoms. That is until doubt was created around the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).
Andrew Wakefield would be very influential in what was thought to be a serious scientific breakthrough for affected families. He wrote a paper suggesting that the MMR vaccine is dangerous to children and causes Autism. After the paper was published in 1998, his peers failed to recreate his hypothesis leading it to be debunked. Wakefield eventually lost his medical license but the damaging content of his research was a mainstay in the minds of parents. Especially parents of vaccinated children who have autism.
Jenny McCarthy used her platform as a celebrity to speak out about vaccines for children. Basically saying they are inherently dangerous and irresponsible with the amount that children receive. This anti-vaccine sentiment spread widely across the U.S. causing parents to not vaccinate their children and it led to outbreaks over the last few years.
CDC Chart if Measles Outbreaks by Year
Cases of Measles are popping up in several states across the country with the most recent being in New Jersey, New York and Washington State. The danger to people who are not vaccinated is real and potentially life threatening.
The fear of vaccine injuries has stopped parents from vaccinating their children. Injuries do occur, however, they are mainly the result of allergic reactions. Reactions such as anaphylaxis, encephalopathy or encephalitis or vasovagal syncope are the most common and occur within 48 hours of receiving the vaccine. Out of the millions of administered vaccines over the last 30 years only 20,000 injury cases have been filed and of those cases roughly 6300 ended in being approved for compensation.
The general consensus surrounding vaccinations is that they are safe and keep people alive after centuries of battling these crippling ailments. Science has advanced to ensure humans are not as susceptible to these viruses as they were in the past. Herd immunity is effective in certain instances but it cannot always guaranteed to help healthy growing children and even adults from contracting these diseases if they are not vaccinated. While there have been serious reactions in some cases, it isn’t significant enough to sound the alarm on all vaccines.
Getting vaccinated is a personal choice for families and loved ones. There are potential risks for choosing to or not. Talk to your doctor to get more information and voice your concerns.