The Vaccination Debate

While there has been opposition to vaccinations since their invention, anti-vaccination culture has been growing rapidly in today’s society. 


When vaccinations were created in the 20th century there was resistance and public criticism. This was mainly because of people’s sanitary, scientific, political and religious objections. 


Since then there have been many scientific breakthroughs in medicine, people and the medical practice is more sanitary, politics have changed and religion is not as big a factor anymore. So why is there such a culture or trend of people being against vaccines today? 


One of the biggest reasons why people have become ‘anti-vac’ or ‘anti-vax’ is the research paper that was released by UK doctor Andrew Wakefield. In 1998, he released a case study about the link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. It was published in the general medical journal The Lancet, which later in 2010 retracted the paper as several elements were proven to be incorrect. 


The report by Wakefield and twelve of his colleagues was met immediately with studies proving the link between vaccines and autism to be wrong. Following this, ten of the twelve researchers retracted their interpretation of the data in the original study, separating themselves from the controversy. When they did this, they also admitted that Wakefield’s research was funded by lawyers working with parents against vaccine producing companies.  


Wakefield’s medical licence was revoked in 2010 because of this fraud. Yet his research is still widely used in modern anti-vaccination groups in campaigns and debates, despite the fact it has been proven wrong by other scientists. 


Anti-vaccination culture has caused a rise in diseases that are preventable with different vaccines. 


Many parents in the USA have started opting out of giving their children vaccines in recent years. This is pushed by the fact that many states now have policies that allow parents to not get their child vaccinated because of ‘philosophical-belief. 


According to The Washington Post, the percentage of US children who don't receive vaccines has quadrupled since 2001. While the number of children not getting vaccinated is going up the immunization rates are still very high. This hasn’t stopped diseases like measles, whooping cough and other paediatric infectious diseases to start spreading rapidly. 


The lack of vaccinations is becoming such a big problem in Ireland that since the 2018/2019 academic year started NUIG students have gotten three emails warning them about cases of mumps on the campus and DCU have gotten one this semester and one at the beginning of the second semester of the 2017/2018 academic year.  


Cases of these diseases in colleges are highly harmful because they are very open and you can pass anyone with these kinds of diseases without knowing. This is why it is crucial for people to get vaccinations against these diseases to stop them spreading.  


Anti-vaccination culture has become quite hazardous in recent years. It has seen the rise of vaccine-preventable diseases, even some that were nearly eradicated. This is likely to be a trend for many years to come despite all the scientific research that shows that they are safe.