Vaccinations: Pitfalls, Progress

Wil McLaughlin, Contributing Columnist

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Influenza Season is coming. Brace yourselves.

“Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife, and hide yo’ husband because everyone is getting sick out here.”

Just look at the international stage. It is getting real. More than 2,300 people will have died from Ebola by the time someone reads this article. HIV and tuberculosis continue to smolder throughout the world like a fire in a coal mine. In the United States, there’s this crazy enterovirus that’s striking the Midwest and popping up elsewhere.

Scary stuff, memes and bad sayings aside, I’d like to spread the word about diseases on the rise. Unfortunately, one can no longer say: “Brah, I’ll take some Tylenol and I’ll feel better.” These bad boys don’t really respond to your basic medicine, and won’t respond to a lot of antibiotics and antivirals that hospitals carry.

But, hey, an ounce of prevention is worth pound of cure. A big problem in close-quarters environments (i.e., college dorms) is the rise of bacterial meningitis. By the time one realizes it isn’t the cold, there is a fair chance one might die. What could one do to not get this dreadful disease? Cough VACCINATIONS cough.

Now, this is where I get the “omg vaccine gives you autisms!!!!” In response, I am metaphorically riding in on a glowing stallion to tell you that statement could not be more false. The original vaccines-cause-autism paper “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children” published in 1998 in The Lancet magazine was redacted due to falsification of evidence and conflict of interest by the author. However, the study dramatically affected the British populace, and by 2004, vaccination rates were down as much as 80 percent according to CNN.

In short, vaccines do not cause autism. I can throw scientific studies at you all day. Over the last fifty years, vaccines have saved millions of lives annually according to UNICEF. I ask the naysayers to look at the source there: UNICEF has no conflict of interest in the matter. It exists solely to help people out.

Do vaccines have real problems associated with them? Heck, yes. The chickenpox vaccine can give you shingles, which is just gross. In exceeding rare cases, some vaccines are manufactured incorrectly and actually give patients the disease. It is a truly horrible thing, and there is always risk involved. Those with weakened or suppressed immune systems cannot be vaccinated because the deactivated or dead pathogen in the vaccine could actually infect them. Not fun.

However, risk is associated with everything we do. There’s a risk that I could slip in the bathroom and bust my bum on the floor. Ouch. For the upperclassmen, there’s a huge risk simply driving to school. On Tumblr, I saw a post simply labeled “The road is a scary place and I am very afraid.”

I encourage everyone at Galileo to get vaccinated. Diseases aren’t child’s play. If you can’t, or don’t want to, make sure your friends are. But everyone please, oh please, wash your hands.

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Vaccinations: Pitfalls, Progress