The Importance of Vaccines

Paige Schneider, Staff Reporter

There has been a lot of debate on whether or not a parents should vaccinate their children in the past couple of years. Although there are some good reasons not to vaccinate your child, there is more good about vaccines than bad. Immunizations currently prevent 2-3 million deaths every year and are the most successful and cheap way to keep someone from getting preventable diseases.

The immune system recognizes germs that enter the body as antigens and produces antibodies to fight them. When someone’s body is first exposed to the antigen, the immune system will produce specific antibodies designed to fight it. Vaccines work by injecting the same antigens that cause diseases into someone’s body, though the virus is weakened to the point that the recipient can’t get sick, or completely killed. Vaccines build up the bodies immunity so the person doesn’t ever have to get sick with the virus the first time in order to be able to fight it off the second time.

Vaccines can do much more than protect a single person – they can protect an entire population. The more people that are vaccinated, the less a disease will show up. We have managed to eradicate diseases like smallpox because of the vaccine. There are others on the verge of extinction like Guinea worm disease in which only 30 cases were reported in 2017. Those are diseases that we don’t have to worry about receiving any longer.

However, we have yet to eradicate all diseases, so there is still a need for vaccinations. An unvaccinated child may not be strong enough to fight a disease they risk being exposed too, and without the immunity that vaccines provide they might not be able to overcome the disease. Many children died before vaccines were created, but now those deaths are preventable. Some babies are unable to vaccines due to allergies, weakened immune systems, or other reasons. So, it’s important that the people they are surrounded by are vaccinated. If the baby is living with a vaccinated family that won’t catch the disease and brings it home, it is a lot more unlikely that the baby will end up getting the disease.

Although vaccines do cost money, they are a cheap alternative to some other outcomes. It’s a lot cheaper and way less hassle to vaccinate a baby rather than to have to pay massive amounts of hospital bills later on. I child could lose their quality of life as well if they catch a preventable disease and end up disabled because of it. There are options available to low-income families so their children can receive free vaccinations, so why take the risk?