Are Refusals of Vaccines Becoming an Epidemic?

Research Guide

Essay, 2016

6 Pages, Grade: Undergraduate


Are Refusal of Vaccines Becoming an Epidemic?

“Vaccination is a barbarous practice and one of the most fatal of all the delusions current in our time.” Mahatma Gandhi, the author of “A Guide to Health” from 1921, was one of the very first extremist against the greatest modern defense of infectious diseases- vaccines. From the influences of Gandhi decades later, the ‘Anti-Vaxxer’ stance became a movement. “April 19th, 1982 was considered the beginning of the modern history of the U.S. anti- vaccine movement. On that date, WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., aired a program entitled DPT: Vaccine Roulette, singling out the DTP vaccine, particular it’s pertussis component, of causing severe brain damage and delayed mental and motor development” (Dr. Olpinski 2). This started a massive international influence of parents deciding not to vaccinate their children. It started a significant decline of vaccinations, especially in Great Britain, that ended up causing an epidemic widespread of Pertussis (whooping Cough) killing many lives of children. “Parents who thought their children were harmed by the vaccine directed class action lawsuits in the civil courts for huge damages against vaccine manufacturers” (Dr. Olpinski 2). In 1998, another influential milestone in the development of the anti-vaccine movement declared that the MMR vaccine was linked to Autism. Presently, the “Vaccine Resistance Movement” has created an internet crusade that has become a political grass roots power against vaccines. This group has around 25,000 members. So deep down, what does this political movement believe in? They believe that vaccines are a pharmaceutical gimmick that creates toxins in the human body that will cause disease to newborns and children. This political outrage will cause more harm than good, especially in this era.

“Vaccination is considered the most successful and cost effective medical intervention ever introduced. A recent publication from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that this distinction continues to hold, reporting that for children born in the US during the period 1994-2013 vaccines will have prevented 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 premature deaths, saving $295 billion in direct medical costs” (Rappuoli 1). On the other hand, ‘Anti-Vaxxers’ have claimed that vaccines are not effective and state that there is no need for vaccinations. A direct quote from an anti-vaccine member stated that, “Because most dangerous diseases have been virtually eliminated in wealthy countries such as the United States, vaccinations have basically become unnecessary” (Tran 3). However, in the recent years as of 2014 there have been cases of reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Some examples of these recurring outbreaks, recorded by the CDC, are: the “Pertussis Epidemic in California 2014,” the “Central Ohio Mumps Outbreak 2014,” and the “Measles Outbreak in Orange County, California Disneyland Park 2015.” The conformation by the CDC stated that these outbreaks were all due to anti-vaccinated children or adults. In the pertussis epidemic in California, the CDPH declare that, “Pertussis epidemic was occurring in the state when reported incidence was more than five times greater than the baseline levels… during January 1- November 26, 2014, a total of 9,935 cases of pertussis were reported, for a state wide of 26.6 cases per 100,000” (Winter 1). CDPH has been working with local public health departments, prenatal care, and pediatric care providers with the goal of encouraging vaccinations of pregnant women and infants to help prevent future outbreaks. The CDC has also reported in central Ohio a mumps outbreak of 225 cases. “Much of the reported cases- 139, or 62%-- have been linked to Ohio State University” (Healy 1). Mumps is a very contagious disease that spreads from coughing and sneezing. A past infected person who has fully recovered from the mumps can have serious health problems later in life. People who have not taken the MMR vaccine are considered very vulnerable and government officials stress the importance of a MMR vaccine. The final CDC record was the measles outbreak in California, specifically Disneyland’s theme park. “Annual attendance at Disney theme parks in California is estimated at 24 million, including many international visitors from where measles is endemic” (Dr. Zipprich 1). This is significant about how national outbreaks can occur, and how foreign tourists can spread disease to other countries. From this outbreak, unvaccinated children were tested positive for the measles. Furthermore, the CDC identified and confirmed that these children did not receive the MMR vaccine. Another investigation of the Disneyland measles outbreak was researched by the Boston Children’s Hospital. “Between January 1st to March 13th, 176 Americans were infected with the measles… Most of the people in the recent outbreak [2015] were not vaccinated, and many of the cases were linked to a Disneyland amusement park in California” (Sifferlin 1). Official word from the CDPH says, “This outbreak illustrates the continued importance of ensuring measles vaccination coverage in the United States” (Dr. Zipprich 1). So, to prevent a potential infectious disease outbreak, it is very important to receive the recommended vaccines. Another stance of the ‘Anti-Vaxxers,’ is that they feel vaccines will cause more harm than good to newborns.

The main target that the anti- vaccine movement hits on the most is when it comes with newborns receiving vaccines. They say that vaccines can cause damage to the newborns immune system by overloading it with toxins. One of the most infectious diseases to newborns is the whooping cough. It is recommended for newborns to receive the DTaP vaccine on time when the baby hits two months old. This is because the baby’s immune system isn’t capable to produce antibodies for protection. “Your baby will need several doses of DTaP vaccine to best protect him [or her]. The first dose is recommended when he [or she] is 2 months old. One recent study showed that many whooping cough deaths among babies could be prevented if all babies received the first dose on time” (CDC 1). If this vaccine isn’t given, it will cause significant harm to the baby’s immune system that can result to death or, “At greatest risk for catching whooping cough and having severe, potentially life threating complications from the infection” (CDC 1). ‘Anti-Vaxxers’ also claim that vaccines given to newborns overload the immune system. However, many studies have shown that newborns and infants respond better to vaccines than adults. “Young children have better immune responses to vaccines than adults and older children… Even if your baby got 11 shots at the same time, he [or she] would only need to use 0.1% of his [or her] immune system to respond to them” (Dr. Brown 3). This is because the newborns immune system is fresh. It is easily effective for newborns to build an immune response with vaccines. Vaccines boost the immune system, not harming it. Without vaccines, infants would have to build immunity by getting the disease first, which would ‘overload’ the immune system and cause fatal harm. A newborn does not have the capability to produce antibodies towards the power of potential infectious diseases. So, without vaccines, a newborns immune system would be very weak and ineffective against infectious diseases. Additionally, without vaccines given to newborns, disease epidemics would occur and cause death to thousands of people. ‘Anti-Vaxxers’ also believe that vaccines do not have the potential to help cure diseases.

“In the next few decades’ vaccines have the potential to prevent and control noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer, neurodegenerative, autoimmune, and metabolic disorders that are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in modern society” (Rappuoli 1). Just imagine if there were a vaccine to cure cancer. In development is testing for therapeutic vaccines for cancer and other diseases. “Therapeutic vaccines represent a viable option for active immunotherapy of cancers that aim to treat late stage disease by using a patient's own immune system. The promising results from clinical trials recently led to the approval of the first therapeutic cancer vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This breakthrough not only provides a new treatment modality for cancer management, but also paves the way for rationally designing and optimizing future vaccines with improved anticancer efficacy” (Guo 1). This would save millions of lives throughout the world. However, there have been top pharmaceutical and research laboratories shut down because of the anti-vaccine movement. Many anti-vaccine movements have sued many laboratories for thousands of dollars for false damages. Thus, this shut down many laboratories. The powerful grass roots ‘Anti- Vaccine Resistance Movement’ has had many protests to help persuade congressmen to vote for their way. The latest victory of the anti-vaccine movement was when congress decided to block the Zika virus funding bill. This shut down many laboratories that were developing Zika vaccines.

The anti- vaccine movement has become a powerful political influence. They have had a strong influence on parents of all over the world. They have been raising many questions in regards to children’s health and long term effects that vaccines may have. It has caused mass confusion among many parents of whether to believe in the ‘Anti-Vaxxer’ political propaganda, or in the doctors’ word. However, without vaccines as discussed; reemergence of vaccine- preventable disease epidemics can occur potentially killing millions of lives, it can cause more harm than good to newborns, and it can take away future cures and therapies of many other diseases. Here lately, it seems that the refusal of vaccines has become an epidemic. “Childhood vaccines are one of the great triumphs of modern medicine. Indeed, parents whose children are vaccinated no longer must worry about their child's death or disability from whooping cough, polio, diphtheria, hepatitis, or a host of other infections” -Ezekiel Emanuel.

Works Cited

CDC. "Your Baby Needs Whooping Cough Vaccines on Time." Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 03 June 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. <>.

Brown, Ari, MD. "Clear Answers and Smart Advice About Your Baby's Shots."

Immunization Action Coalition, July 2016. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. <>.

Guo, Chunqing. "Result Filters." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National

Library of Medicine, 2013. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. <>.

Healy, Michelle. "Ohio Mumps Outbreak Grows." USA Today. Gannett, 16 Apr. 2014. Web. 14

Sept. 2016. <>.

Olpinski, Marian. "Anti-Vaccination Movement and Parental Refusals of Immunization of

Children in USA." Anti-Vaccination Movement and Parental Refusals of Immunization

of Children in USA. Elsevier, 06 Sept. 2012. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. <>.

Rappuoli, Rino. "Vaccines: Science, Health, Longevity, and Wealth." Proceedings of the

National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. National Academy of

Sciences, 26 Aug. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. <>.

Stifferlin, Alexandra. "Disneyland Measles Outbreak Linked to Low Vaccination Rates." Time.

Time, 16 Mar. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. <>.

Tran, Lucky. "7 Biggest Lies Spread by the Anti-Vaccine Movement, Debunked by Science."

Mic. Get Mic Daily, 25 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. <>.

Winter, Kathleen, MPH. "Pertussis Epidemic — California, 2014." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 05 Dec. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. <>.

Zipprich, Jennifer, PhD. "Measles Outbreak — California, December 2014–February 2015."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. <>.

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Are Refusals of Vaccines Becoming an Epidemic?
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Briar Cook (Author), 2016, Are Refusals of Vaccines Becoming an Epidemic?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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