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Robin Keetch
English 1010.40
Dr. Sean George
24 November 2015
To Be or Not To Be Immunized
Have you ever been infected with diphtheria? How about rubella? Or do you know
anyone who has been infected with either of these? Do you know what these are? Chances are,
probably not. These are types of infectious diseases that have been eliminated and therefore have
been forgotten about. These and other infectious diseases, such as pertussis, measles, and
mumps, were prevalent in the 19th and early 20th centuries. (NAIAID par.3) According to the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, these diseases infected hundreds of
thousands of people in the United States each year, and tens of thousands of people died, with
most of these being children. (NAIAID par.3) With the introduction of vaccines, these illnesses
were annihilated. Vaccinations help our immune system fight diseases and prevent epidemics.
Because of recent scares of vaccinations causing neurological disorders and other serious side
effects, more and more people are refusing to have their children get vaccinations, and these
people are refusing to receive the vaccinations themselves. Unfortunately, these people are
misinformed about the risks of vaccinations. The risks of not getting vaccinated far outweigh the
possible side effects. Some even believe that vaccination is no longer necessary because of the
declining rates of these diseases. The consequence of people refusing to get vaccinated not only
puts everyone else at risk for contracting these preventable diseases which causes misery and
suffering, but herd immunity starts to fail.

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The United States had completely eliminated measles by the year 2000. The CDC stated
that, The United States was able to eliminate measles because it has a highly effective measles
vaccine, a strong vaccination program that achieves high vaccine coverage in children and a
strong public health system for detecting and responding to measles cases and outbreaks.
(Vaccines par.12) However, unvaccinated people who travel to different countries bring the
disease back into the U.S., causing people who arent vaccinated to become infected. (Benefits
par.33) In 2005, a 17 year old girl who was intentionally unvaccinated, travelled to Romania, and
brought back the measles disease with her; she infected 34 other intentionally unvaccinated
people. (Bailey par.16) In 2015, there was another measles outbreak. A contaminated traveler
from a different country went to Disneyland in California, infecting 159 people in eighteen
different states. The majority of these infected people were not vaccinated. (Vaccines par.12)
Ronald Bailey, Reason Science Correspondent states, Before the measles vaccine was
introduced in 1962, some 48,000 were hospitalized and 450 died of that infection each year. So
far this year [2013] there have been 175 cases and three hospitalizations. (Bailey par.6) The
measles vaccine proves to be highly effective. A study done in 1985 by Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention estimated that the first 20 years of the measles vaccination in the U.S.
had prevented 52 million cases, 5,200 deaths and 17,400 cases of mental retardation. (Bailey
par.6) Not only does refusal of vaccinations put people at risk for inheriting these diseases, but it
causes herd immunity to deteriorate.
Rotavirus diarrheal disease is prevalent in poor countries, killing 500,000 each year.
(Bailey par.11) In the United States, 1 in 5 kids under the age of 5 come down with the disease
every year, causing 57,000 hospitalizations. (Bailey par.11) After 2006 when the rotavirus
vaccine became available, it reduced the amount of hospitalizations by 90 percent. (Bailey

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par.11) In addition, hospitalizations of the rotavirus disease of older children and young adults
who havent been vaccinated have also been greatly reduced to 10,000 per year because they are
no longer exposed to those toddlers and infants who would be the ones infecting them. (Bailey
par.11)
Whooping cough (AKA pertussis) is a dangerous disease, and infants cannot be
immunized against it. Their immunization against the disease solely depends on the rest of us
being immunized against it. But, more and more people are refusing to receive this vaccination,
so the number of whooping cough cases has risen dramatically. In 1976, there were 1,010 cases
of pertussis. In 2012, there were 48,277 cases, the highest since 1955. Eighteen infants died, and
half were hospitalized. (Bailey par.15)
Herd immunity is when the majority of people are immunized against infectious diseases
(herd refers to a community, or society as a whole.) This reduces the spread of illnesses from
infected people to people who arent or cannot be immunized, such as infants and people with
compromised immune systems, and even those individuals who refuse to be vaccinated. Ronald
Bailey states that, People who refuse vaccination for themselves and their children are freeriding off herd immunity. Anti-vaccination folks are taking advantage of the fact that most people
around them have chosen the minimal risk of vaccination, thus acting as a firewall protecting
them from disease. (Bailey par.13) But when many people begin to refuse vaccinations, these
firewall protections break down, and herd immunity starts to fail.
Criticism of vaccinations has existed since the invention of vaccinations, beginning with
the smallpox vaccine in the 1800s. (Opposition par.2) The controversy comes from the fear of
side effects that come along with it; and more recently the concern of certain neurological

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disorders, such as autism. A huge part of this fear is due to Dr. Andrew Wakefield who published
a paper in 1998 stating there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. (Opposition
par.16) This paper was published in The Lancet, a medical journal. In 2004, the General Medical
Council had found that, Wakefield had a fatal conflict of interest and had been paid by a law
board to find evidence to support a litigation case by parents who believed that the vaccine had
harmed their children. (Opposition par.16) Needless to say, The Lancet officially retracted the
paper in 2010. Much research has been done and still there is no evidence linking the MMR
vaccine and autism.
Thimerosal, a mercury compound found in vaccinations, was also a concern for causing
neurological disorders. In 1999, health and medical organizations agreed to reduce or remove
thimerosal from vaccinations, even though no scientific evidence was found that it caused any
damage; and yet, neurological disorders are still on the rise. (Opposition par.18) The safety of
vaccinations is tested for many years before they are given to the public. (Benefits par.26) They
go through a rigorous process which includes 3 steps: licensure from the FDA, testing on animals
to ensure their safety, then testing on adults and children. (Benefits par.26) The chicken pox
(varicella) vaccination took 11 years before it was even licensed by the FDA. (Benefits par.16)
Stressing the importance of vaccinations is very critical. Not only do vaccinations help
the body fight off infectious diseases, but they protect society as a whole. They help to prevent
the spread of illnesses that cause agony and anguish, and they promote herd immunity. Infectious
diseases were eradicated at one time, but because of the continuous decline in vaccination rate,
its only a matter of time before they become prevalent once again.

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Works Cited
Bailey, Ronald. "People Should Not Be Allowed to Refuse Vaccination." Vaccines. Ed. Nol
Merino. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2015. At Issue. Rpt. from "Refusing
Vaccination Puts Others at Risk: A Pragmatic Argument for Coercive Vaccination."
Reason.com. 2013. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

"The Benefits of Vaccination Outweigh the Risks." Vaccines. Ed. Nol Merino. Farmington
Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2015. At Issue. Rpt. from "General Vaccine Safety
Concerns." (Apr. 2013). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Vaccines Prevent Infectious Diseases."
Do Infectious Diseases Pose a Threat? Ed. Roman Espejo. Detroit: Greenhaven Press,
2014. At Issue. Rpt. from "Vaccines: Understanding." Opposing Viewpoints in Context.
Web. 24 Nov. 2015.
Opposition to Vaccines Has Existed as Long as Vaccination Itself. Vaccines. Ed. Noel Merino.
Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2015. At Issue. Rpt. From History of AntiVaccination Movements. 2014. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.

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"Vaccines." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints
in Context. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

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