Anti-vaxxers need to change their views once COVID-19 immunization shot gets approved for distribution

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Ngan Dang

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic plagued the forefront of every news headline and dictated a culture of “new normal,” the intense battle against time has begun to invent a vaccine to eventually bring about immunity from COVID-19.
With the talks of such a development as early as November to early next year, it’s more important than ever for “anti-vaxxers” to break from their beliefs and allow themselves and their children to get this shot so they can join the world’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Despite the role vaccines have played in society since their initial creation as a solution to cowpox, doubts and conspiracies surrounding their effectiveness are still largely prevalent among concerned groups primarily consisting of worried parents who fear for their children’s health and safety.
One of the greatest concerns frequently brought up by anti-vaccine supporters consists of a scientifically incorrect assumption that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine caused autism, as stated by Andrew Wakefield, a now discredited physician, in a fraudulent study done in 1998. Other worries involve claims that such immunity shots contain harmful levels of toxins like mercury and aluminum.
Though Wakefield’s claims were heavily disproven in a 2011 study, and mercury levels in vaccines were found to be exaggerated, the disastrous consequences from mistruths can still be felt today when anti-vaxxers fall for medical myths and decide to not inoculate themselves or their children, making a harmful decision that may affect more people than the party involved.
Another myth, especially from worried parents, states that too many vaccines overwhelm a child’s immune system. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] states getting multiple shots at once has been proven to be safe. At most, overloading immunizations can cause fevers or febrile seizures, both of which are temporary and do not pose any lasting damages.
One of the most famous anti-vaxxers in the spotlight, actress Jessica Biel, gave this statement to the media in 2019: “I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations, and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians.”
Despite detaching herself from the “anti-vaxxer” title, Biel promotes the unhealthy lifestyle of rejecting professional medical advice, especially as someone with an influential platform. Though parents should and do have a right in making crucial decisions for their kids, not all parents are medical professionals.
According to the CDC, vaccines play a vital role in keeping not only ourselves in good health, but also the society around us. Since these injections help combat infectious diseases, the more people get vaccinated, the less a virus spreads, thus keeping a society healthy.
Continuing to live with the mindset of an anti-vaxxer, especially in today’s time, promotes a lifestyle that dismisses facts; science and qualified medical doctors are ignored in an attempt to falsely satisfy a medical misconception, which can ultimately do harm to unaware third parties.
Rejecting vaccinations is a decision derived from the privilege of living in a First World country. Making the selfish choice to potentially harm uninvolved bystanders is an action that speaks louder than words when dictating one’s character and belief in science.
In underdeveloped countries where it is difficult to access basic healthcare, easily preventable diseases pose a great risk to vulnerable groups such as children. For instance, although the United States has remained polio-free since 1979 because of mandatory immunization requirements for children against the poliovirus, Afghanistan and Pakistan to this day remain plagued by the disease, according to the World Health Organization [WHO], primarily caused by insecurity and difficult access to clinics and healthcare workers.
The WHO also reported that approximately 19.7 million children under 1 year of age did not receive their basic vaccinations, despite immunizations preventing 2-3 million deaths a year.
Especially when we consider the United States’ current medical crisis, the habit of rejecting immunization shots seems highly insensible and encourages irresponsible behavior; according to the CDC, with currently 5.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 174,645 casualties as of Aug. 22, risking possibly thousands or more deaths because of a falsified narrative surrounding vaccinations brings harm to the masses.
Just like social distancing, wearing a mask and self-quarantining, the mindset to get vaccinated can be the next step to being courteous, mindful citizens who care not only about their own personal health, but for the health of their nation. Here’s hoping that Biel and other anti-vaxxers will see it this way, too, when the COVID-19 immunization shot arrives.