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Protecting Our Children: Why Vaccines are Essential to Preventing Deadly Childhood Diseases

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The Importance of Vaccines for Protecting Our Children

Vaccines have revolutionized the medical industry, completely changing the way we combat diseases that were once deadly to millions around the world. For decades, vaccines have been essential in preventing the spread of deadly childhood diseases. Polio, smallpox, and measles are just a few of the diseases that were once prevalent in the United States but are now largely prevented thanks to vaccinations. In this article, we will delve into why vaccines are essential for protecting our children from deadly diseases.

The Science of Vaccination

Before delving further into the importance of vaccines, it’s essential to first understand how vaccines work. Vaccines work by exposing the body to a small, inactivated, or dead form of the disease to produce an immune response. This immune response creates antibodies that can fight off the disease in the future. By doing so, your body is trained to fight off the disease if you were ever to get infected. In other words, vaccines train the immune system to recognize and fight diseases.

Vaccines are essential for preventing illnesses, mostly deadly illnesses that were once common. When enough people in a community are vaccinated and immune, we create herd immunity, preventing the spread of a disease to others. Children who cannot get vaccinated due to medical reasons, like cancer treatment, are protected from disease if the people surrounding them are vaccinated.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Their Impact

Vaccine-preventable diseases are not a rarity, but they are uncommon in the United States due to the strict vaccination requirements for school-aged children. Diseases such as measles, polio, and whooping cough are prevented by vaccines, and without them, children would be susceptible to contracting potentially deadly illnesses.

Measles is one of the more common of these vaccine-preventable diseases. Its symptoms include fever, cough, and a rash all over the body. This disease can cause ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis, seizures, and even death. Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, 3-4 million people would contract the disease, leading to around 400–500 deaths annually in the United States. In 2000, measles in the United States was declared eliminated. However, before 2019 was out, there was a measles outbreak of more than 1,200 cases in the US.

Polio was once a crippling disease that led to widespread panic. It is a virus causing muscle weakness and paralysis. In 1952, there were 3,000 cases of polio in the United States, and the majority of those affected were children. Before the introduction of the vaccine in 1955, over 20,000 people would suffer from paralysis every year caused by polio. By 1966, thanks to the widespread administration of the polio vaccine, the United States was declared free of polio.

Whooping cough is another vaccine-preventable disease. The symptoms of whooping cough include coughing spells so severe that one can barely catch their breath, vomiting, and exhaustion. Whooping cough can result in hospitalization, pneumonia, seizures, and death, especially among infants. Before the introduction of the vaccine in the 1940s, whooping cough caused 5,000-10,000 deaths a year in the United States. The vaccination is effective, but outbreaks still occur, especially in communities with low vaccination rates.

The Myth of Vaccine-Related Autism

One of the more persistent myths about vaccines is that they are linked to the development of autism in children. This myth has no scientific basis. In 1998, a medical study was published claiming a link between the MMR (Measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine and autism. This study, which has since been thoroughly debunked, led to a decrease in vaccination rates worldwide, costing lives unnecessarily. A child’s involvement with mercury in vaccines and autism is one of the conspiracy theories that anti-vaxxers often cite.

However, scientific studies show that vaccines are safe. Every vaccine is thoroughly tested for safety and efficacy before it is approved by the FDA, and it’s been repeatedly proven that children who receive vaccinations have the same rate of Autism as those who aren’t vaccinated.

The Risks of Not Getting Vaccinated

The decision not to vaccinate is a risky one, not just for the child but also for the larger population. The risks of not getting vaccinated include:

1. Increased Risk of Illness: Children who do not get vaccinated are more at risk of getting ill and suffering potentially deadly consequences.

2. Complications: While most vaccine-preventable illnesses are not deadly, they can still lead to complications that can be severe or long-lasting, such as hearing or vision problems, permanent brain damage, or paralysis.

3. Outbreaks: When the number of unvaccinated individuals rises in a community, outbreaks of diseases like measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox can occur.

4. Lowered Immunity: By not getting vaccinated, children have reduced immunity and, in turn, increase the likelihood of contracting a disease. Even if a child does not get sick, their lack of vaccination could lead to an outbreak, putting those who cannot get vaccinated like those going through chemotherapy, babies, and pregnant women at risk.

The Bottom Line

Vaccinations are essential to protecting our children and the community as a whole. Vaccines are safe and thoroughly tested, and they work to keep diseases that were once deadly at bay. While vaccine-preventable diseases are uncommon, they can still pose a severe threat to those who are unvaccinated, and their impact should not be taken lightly. The bottom line is that vaccines are necessary, and parents should ensure that their children are vaccinated as per the recommendations of their pediatricians. It is only by working together that we can maintain the herd immunity required to keep these deadly diseases at bay.

Summing it Up

Vaccines are essential to protecting our children from potentially deadly diseases. They are thoroughly tested and safe, and the decision not to get vaccinated has far-reaching consequences, including increased risk of illness, lowered immunity, and outbreaks. Parents should ensure their children receive the recommended vaccinations to maintain herd immunity and prevent the spread of dangerous diseases.

Chloe Carter

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