AYNTKA: The Anti-Vaccine Movement

The world witnesses new campaigns very often. Some have positive impacts like the LGBTQ movement and steps against climate change, but some movements seem to reverse mankind’s advancement. One such movement is the Anti-Vaccine Movement.

The Rise of the Movement-

In a nutshell, the anti-vaccine movement is one where parents reject the vaccine doses considering unreliable, toxic and a possible cause of autism and Bowles disease.
The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is regarded as one of the best achievements in medicine. It led to the eradication of measles from several countries like the USA, the UK, the Czech Republic, and Greece. However WHO recently declared these countries to no longer be measles-free.
This damage has been caused by the very anti-vaccine movement that’s gaining momentum.
The anti-vaccine movement started as a result of a research paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield. In his paper, he claimed the existence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Andrew Wakefield ended up losing his medical license due to his poorly researched and false paper. Why poorly researched? Because his sample size for survey data was 12 people! While this paper had been retracted by the medical journal- The Lancet and Andrew Wakefield’s license had been revoked, the damage had been done. Parents across countries seemed to take to this theory and refuse to give up the belief in spite of various clarifications by doctors and scientists.
The growing apprehension about vaccines made a lot of people skeptical of them. Parents began to wonder why so many vaccines were needed, whether natural immunity is better, if vaccines were a pharmaceutical scam, if so many vaccines at a young age were necessary and so on. They seem to think that the risk of their child getting infected with a life-threatening illness is acceptable as long as they don’t have to go through the ‘questionable’ vaccine process.

The Impact-

In 2019, there have been 600+ reported measles cases in the United States. 600+ cases of measles, 19 years after the eradication of it. This is an example of the biggest impact this movement has caused- the reversal of years of medical advancement.
The movement has led to a reduction in herd immunity. Herd immunity is the immunity to a disease, of a certain group of people, if enough of them have been immunized. With the number of anti-vaccine supporters growing, herd immunity is decreasing, causing an enormous increase in infectious disease cases.
The governments in these countries on their part are doing their best to clear misconceptions. The pro-vaccine argument is explained to teenagers themselves. A lot of teenagers have spoken about getting immunized without their parents knowing.
Drastic steps have also been taken in various places. For example, in New York, children who have not been immunized have been barred from attending school. This step has invoked an adverse reaction amongst the anti-vaxxers but seems to be the only way to ensure 100% immunization. This step was taken keeping in mind the health of all students in a school, immunized or unimmunized. The spread of highly infectious illness is like the spread of a forest fire in places like schools and other public places. The idea is to ensure no fear of contracting a disease when stepping out of home and achieving herd immunity.

The need of the hour is to spread more awareness about vaccines and convince the anti-vaxxers to think rationally and realize that the risk they consider to be acceptable is not. Their kids, as well as the population as a whole, will only benefit from immunization.