Vaccination has long been the most effective way of preventing or completely eliminating infectious diseases. Prior to vaccination, large numbers of people with different backgrounds suffered from smallpox and other diseases. Nevertheless, opposing vaccination has become a major trend in Western societies, which have been leading the world in the fight against numerous diseases for decades. Such an attitude undermines the efforts of millions of medical workers around the globe and the results of vaccination programs of the past.
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Diseases like the plague and a few others still exist and remind humanity of the necessity of constant fight against highly contagious diseases that spread rapidly. Wang et al. (2016) state that infectious diseases caused substantial damage to human population, and they continue to do so even now. Vaccination is virtually the most straight-forward way to stop the spread of a disease or even to eliminate it. Fighting some diseases has become a vital global issue which is addressed according to its scale. According to Feldstein et al. (2017), in 1974, the World Health Organization established the Expanded Program on Immunization to ensure that all children have access to four routinely recommended vaccines that protect against six diseases. Vaccination is much cheaper than the treatment of large numbers of people. Covid-19 has shown the world that most states lack resources and medical facilities to provide aid for millions of people if the disease is highly contagious. In a globalized world, it is virtually impossible to prevent the rapid spread of almost any disease.
What is more, even if people are generally not allowed to travel abroad, large amounts of goods can still transmit the disease from one continent to another. Therefore, currently, even those people who do not believe they will ever be exposed to a disease and reject vaccination do not understand how vulnerable they are in reality. Scholars suggest that in order to eliminate infectious diseases, individuals need to consider social welfare beyond mere self-interest (Korn, Böhm, Meier, & Betsch, 2020). Vaccination is effective mainly if it is a tool to achieve herd immunity. Vaccination prevents the disease only for a certain period of time. It is generally expected that most people will be vaccinated in a short period of time when a new infectious disease appears. Thus, if large numbers of people are not vaccinated, others will get the disease in any case.
Vaccination could have raised questions when it emerged as a large-scale method of preventing diseases. However, decades have passed since then, and the safety of this method has been proven at least by ever growing healthy life expectancy. Nevertheless, there are still numerous myths and misconceptions about the correlation between some types of vaccines and disorders. For instance, many people believe that vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) is a cause of autism. Multiple studies have already found that neither autistic disorder nor other autistic-spectrum disorders are associated with MMR vaccination (Hviid, Hansen, Frisch, & Melbye, 2019). Moreover, humanity has reached a certain degree of consciousness, which allows for a comprehensive understanding of the future. Even if a person firmly believes that he or she does not need a vaccine, billions of people are still vulnerable, including this person’s immediate relatives and descendants.
Vaccination is, arguably, the first truly affordable tool that can help humanity as a whole. Moreover, rejecting a safe dose of the weakened virus does not prevent a person from finally catching a serious dose with all the serious consequences. That is why vaccination implies that every member of society acts reasonably and puts the public good above minor discomfort and hypothetical risks that are associated with vaccination.
Feldstein, L. R., Mariat, S., Gacic-Dobo, M., Diallo, M. S., Conklin, L. M., & Wallace, A. S. (2017). Global routine vaccination coverage, 2016. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 66(45), 1252–1255. Web.
Hviid, A., Hansen, J. V., Frisch, M., & Melbye, M. (2019). Measles, mumps, rubella vaccination and autism: A nationwide cohort study. Annals of internal medicine, 170(8), 513–520. Web.
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Korn, L., Böhm, R., Meier, N. W., & Betsch, C. (2020). Vaccination as a social contract. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(26), 14890–14899. Web.
Wang, Z., Bauch, C. T., Bhattacharyya, S., d’Onofrio, A., Manfredi, P., Perc, M.,… Zhao, D. (2016). Statistical physics of vaccination. Physics Reports, 664, 1–113. Web.