Vaccinations protect everyone, not just your child

Erynn Williams

In recent news there has been a lot of talk about vaccinations and parents who elect not to vaccinate their children. My issue with parents choosing to refrain from vaccinating their children is not that they have the ability to do so but that many parents who are not vaccinating their children pose a threat to other children.

In America we enjoy many freedoms, including the freedom to choose whether you or your child should be vaccinated. While this decision may seem incredibly minor to many, the consequences of an individual’s decision could have very serious implications for someone else. For example, a California father, Carl Krawitt, is calling for schools in Marin County to ban unvaccinated children 
following a recent measles outbreak at Disneyland. Krawitt’s child, who is in remission from leukemia, is 
unable to receive vaccinations at the time and is very susceptible to disease. Because Californian children are allowed to attend school without being vaccinated for measles, whooping cough and chickenpox, Krawitt’s son is at an even greater risk for getting these diseases and being hospitalized due to his suppressed immune system. Each of the aforementioned diseases and infections are highly
contagious and I find it absurd that any parent would choose to not only leave their child open to any of them but also place other children like 
Krawitt’s son, who may have weaker immune systems than their child ,
in danger.

While I am sure that any parent who has made the decision not to vaccinate their child has done plenty of research, the act is still reckless. Although most generally healthy people will not experience severe complications from any of these diseases, there is no way to tell who you will come into contact with on any given day, and taking initiative by vaccinating yourself and your children can only help in the prevention of outbreak. While I understand there are religious reasons for not vaccinating and I do believe that everyone should be able to exercise their rights, it seems more like common courtesy these days to vaccinate to not only protect oneself but to help others as well.

I hardly believe death is immediate in most cases of these diseases, but it can still happen in cases of severe complications. Regarding chickenpox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states, “Some deaths from chickenpox continue to occur in healthy, unvaccinated 
children and adults. Many of the healthy adults who died from chickenpox contracted the disease from their unvaccinated children.” For whooping cough, the CDC website states, “Pertussis (whooping cough) can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening complications in infants and young children, especially those who are not fully vaccinated.” Even though measles had been eradicated from America, there was always the chance that someone outside the U.S. could bring it in. According to the CDC website, “As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children. About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop 
encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded.” These are severe complications but for someone with a suppressed immune system these complications could be reality.

All I want to convey is that I think for the good of us all, we should just vaccinate. Otherwise a parent not vaccinating their child just shows they would rather risk their child dying from a preventable disease than risk their child somehow developing autism in an unproven and unrelated way.

Erynn Williams is a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies. Her column runs biweekly.