Living Without Vaccines

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Every little baby when born is treated as a special bundle who is welcomed onto this planet with a gentle pat on its butt, a kiss on the forehead, and about twenty-four vaccine shots. (That escalated quickly, didn’t it?)

Watching as such tiny little bodies brave the weakened pathogens injected into them while bawling away might eventually lead to a parent having skeptical thoughts along the lines of “Does my squiggly child really need these vaccines?” or maybe even “Vaccines are useless. I’m sure healthy food and lifestyle will help strengthen the immune system better.”

Well, consider this article a reality check for all those skeptical parents out there.

Let’s start off with a scientific definition of vaccines; they are described as antigenic substances prepared from weakened pathogens causing a particular disease to provide immunity against the same. When vaccines are introduced into the body, the immune system produces antibodies against these pathogens to fight them off and prevent diseases. As these pathogens are weakened, they are easily destroyed by the body’s immune cells. The immune system having already been exposed to the disease retains it in memory and produces a stronger and larger number of antibodies upon subsequent exposure of the same antigens.

The advent of vaccines has led to the eradication of several diseases and is, hence, deemed important for not only children but even adults. Today, there are a plethora of vaccines that offer resistance against diseases like smallpox, chickenpox, measles, and mumps.

Doctors especially stress on the importance of vaccines for infants and growing children, as their immune systems are not fully mature, and their stomachs do not have much acid. This makes it easy for bacteria and viruses to multiply, making them a lot more vulnerable to the effects of these pathogens. The doctors believe that until a disease is completely eradicated, the best way to protect one’s self is to keep vaccinated.

It is this concern that has inspired many non-governmental organizations to start up groups that advocate and help educate mothers all over the world about the importance of getting their children vaccinated.

A recent case study on Japan’s whooping cough epidemic will help throw light on the importance of vaccination. Vaccination against pertussis, also called whooping cough, was given to almost all children in Japan during the year of 1974. During this time, only 393 cases of whooping cough were recorded, with no mortalities. People then slowly started to believe that the disease had been completely eradicated and thought it unnecessary to get their children vaccinated against pertussis. In 1979, disaster stuck with more than 13,000 people contracting the disease, causing 41 deaths. In 1981, the government decided to bring back the vaccine, and once again, peace was restored.

Centers for disease control and prevention have stated that unless all people are vaccinated against a particular disease, it cannot be completely eradicated. This is due to the fact that the pathogens can spread from one person to another by contact.

In another article on “Voices for Vaccines,” a popular website advocating the need for vaccines, a 37-year-old mother shared her experience of being prone to more diseases because she had not been vaccinated. In contrast, her children, who were vaccinated against all diseases, rarely seemed to fall ill. In spite of her healthy lifestyle and eating habits, she learned that vaccines provide immunity against diseases that the body is usually not strong enough to fight off by itself.

Thus, the need for vaccines is quite obvious and is recommended for all, young and old, irrespective of the kind of lifestyle and food habits followed.

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