Gavin Mercado and Grace Baer
Vaccinations are a heated topic that has been building fire in recent times. While many follow the guidelines doctors have recommended for years in order to reduce the spread of deadly diseases, some are skeptical or even outright confrontational regarding the science. The truth is, many of these anti-vaxxers are misinformed and are putting their beliefs before doctors and scientists who have studied diseases and successfully used vaccines for hundreds of years.
Sorry, Sharon, crystals are not going to cure your child’s measles, and no, crystals are not going to cure your child’s flu. Now let’s get to some scientific evidence.
Many anti-vaxxers claim that vaccinations are unsafe because they contain a substance called Mercury or (Hg). A vaccine used to contain 25 micrograms of mercury. This may seem like a lot, however, a normal serving of fish contains 40 micrograms.
The mercury used in vaccines today, thimerosal, is also a much safer version of mercury, and is not dangerous but can cause side effects if consumed often. Additionally, as of 2019, mercury amounts have been reduced. Additionally, thimerosal is only in multidose vaccines, so not all vaccines contain it.
Reportedly influenced by news articles and propaganda from the anti-vaxxers community, many anti-vaxxers rely on outdated or debunked information. A 1998 article written by Andrew Wakefield and 12 of his colleagues and published in The Lancet newspaper where he links vaccinations to autism has influenced many to stop having their children vaccinated. However, the article was later taken down after many elements of his study were proven false.
In addition to being misinformed about the ingredients in vaccines, many anti-vaxxers are often unaware of how a vaccine works. To explain, when the immune system receives a vaccine containing a virus or toxoid, it creates antibodies to fight it. Most importantly, the virus is rendered non-infectious, or non-virulent before being used for a vaccine. For example, the DTaP vaccine contains diphtheria and tetanus toxoids. Subunit vaccines like this one include only parts of the virus or bacteria, or subunits, instead of the entire virus (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).
To those who still aren’t clear, a vaccine is an injection that contains a weaker version of a disease. This is, of course, harmless and your body learns how to fight off the disease. For example, if you were to get measles, your body would fight off the disease before you could ever realize you had the disease in the first place. Vaccines are amazing marvels of medicine.
Perhaps the greatest risk of all is that not vaccinating a child doesn’t only put his or her life at risk, but it also puts the lives of everyone that child comes in contact with at risk as well. Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), poliomyelitis (polio), measles, mumps, rubella, and others are all recommended vaccines by the Center for Disease Control because they can be deadly, and in many cases, they can spread quickly.
It is estimated that vaccines save 2.5 million lives every year. Just imagine how much that number would go up if everyone (including you and your crystals, Sharon) was vaccinated. Millions of more lives would be saved. Every vaccination counts.