A danger to the world. A denial of years of studying has led to outbreaks of diseases that can be prevented. A lack of understanding and fear has led to a movement of people that does not believe in the benefits of vaccines and the beauty of horrific diseases being eradicated. Recent outbreaks have provoked new policies including the banning of unvaccinated kids attending public schooling. This is a completely reasonable response and is completely achievable given the increased options in schooling now.

There have been outbreaks in Oregon, Washington, New Jersey and New York beginning in 2018. Recently a judge in New York banned more than 40 children from attending private schools even including schools that have no reported outbreaks so far. This measure has caused controversy, but this does not go far enough.

Vaccines are a vital part of healthcare and basic measures to prevent unneeded suffering. Vaccines work by improving your body’s ability to fight diseases by teaching specialized cells in the immune system to recognize dangerous diseases and eliminate them before they put an individual’s health at risk. 

There is misunderstanding around the effects of vaccines, specifically that vaccines cause autism. There is no scientific research to prove this at all. Autism is caused by genetics and some environmental factors like premature birth. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke state that “Multiple studies have shown that vaccination to prevent childhood infectious diseases does not increase the risk of autism in the population.”

There is overwhelming evidence that vaccines do not cause autism, but even if it did, why is having an autistic child more horrinous than your child dying by your own hand because you refused to vaccinate. Autistic people are not subhuman and deserve just as meaningful a life as other people and having a child that is autistic is not the end of the world, having a child die is the end of the world, their world. The fear of autism is not a good enough reason to refuse to vaccinate a child.

There are actually people who cannot have vaccines because of medical conditions like cystic fibrosis or cancer.  The full course of recommended vaccinations in the majority of the population contribute to what is called herd immunity. Which means if a majority of the population is immune to a disease then the people who are susceptible have less a chance of ever being exposed and their lives being put at risk.

In Tennessee, vaccines are mandated, but parents can file for religious exemptions in order to bypass these measures in order to still attend public school. The policy allowing for religious exemptions is not for the benefit of the majority of the population and should be further restricted to protect the most vulnerable of the population because it is misused by people who just do not want to vaccinate.

According to the TN Department of Health, Nashville and Davidson county only has a 74.8% completion rate for the full series of required vaccines. Overall Tennessee’s vaccination rate for the full course of vaccines is 72% and no region reached the goal of an 80% immunization rate. Also published in the report is the reason for the parents refusing to vaccinate and it was found that, “Approximately half of the parents cited personal, rather than medical or religious, reasons for this decision.”

These statistics show how lenient that TN is on vaccinations and this really need to improve.  Either everyone without a medical contraindication should be vaccinated with the full course of vaccines that are recommended for the general population or voluntarily unvaccinated children should not be allowed to attend public school. There are options available that this would not jeopardize that individual’s education. Online classes for K-12th grade exist as well as homeschooling options.

Children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons should not be barred the same way though, they cannot help that they have something going on. They also will be at less risk for exposure when at school with a fully immunized population that can provide sufficient herd immunity.

Vaccinations save lives and are vital piece of protecting the public. Millions of people have died from each of the diseases we are immunized against. Millions of people had wished for some form of protection that is found in vaccines today. 

Vaccines are not dangerous and should be celebrated instead of feared.