A Review Of Vaccines


In recent years, the issue regarding vaccines has grown, with some believing that the practice is bad and while others think it benefits society.

The earliest recognized vaccination  of the west was administered to a 13 year old boy in 1796 to try to combat the smallpox influx in the population.  Edward Jenner immunized the boy with vaccinia virus (cowpox) and was successful in creating an immunity in him. Since then, the impact and support for vaccinations has had its ups and downs. So what are vaccines, how do they work, and what’s all the controversy about? 

A vaccine introduces specific molecules or antigens from a pathogen, a bacteria, virus, or a microorganism that causes a disease to the body. This way the body can recognize the foreign invaders, develop antibodies that combine with and engulf the antigens, and store information for future encounters with the pathogen. 

Pros of Vaccines 

If everyone who is able to vaccinates, the chance of a virus or infection spreading around decreases. This is called herd immunity and is especially beneficial to those who are unable to get vaccinated such as babies, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with an autoimmune disease. 

Vaccinations strongly decrease the chance of contracting an infectious illnesses while travelling to other countries and while being in contact with unvaccinated individuals.  Herd immunity can protect those who vaccinations don’t work for especially for vaccines that are not 100 percent effective. 

“If people [do] not get vaccinated [for whooping cough] and they come down with [whooping cough], they could potentially infect people that have had the vaccine but just happen to be a person who the vaccine doesn’t work for.  We’ve had students here that have had whooping cough and have had the vaccine but they are now at risk because [people] out there [are not vaccinated],” said Biology teacher Sean Blair. 

How did the anti-vax movement start? 

The anti-vax movement has roots in 1763 in Paris. Most recently attributed to the 1982  NBC documentary “DPT: Vaccine Roulette” which reported a tie between the vaccine for pertussis and seizures in children. The show was heavily criticized for being “dangerously inaccurate” according to The New York Times.  

The most famous case is the research paper published by Andrew Wakefield in 1998, which investigated and demonstrated a link between the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) between bowel disease and autism. The research paper was later deemed to be inaccurate and Wakefield’s license was revoked. 

Recently the anti-vax movement has received support from multiple celebrities and is continuing the grow traction despite criticism from scientists and healthcare professionals.  

“I remember people, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who had polio. [Younger people] don’t know anyone who’s had polio. [They] don’t know any of these diseases, but they were here. A lot of anti-vaxers say ‘oh well we are not worried about it America. We don’t need to do it here because it’s not here’ but that’s not true,” said Biology teacher Adrienne Hoffman.