Don’t Throw Away Your Shot!

Why vaccines should be compulsory for all Americans medically-able to receive them.

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In a rare glimmer of hope, CDC director Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the US should see a “turning point” in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, citing the spike in vaccinations around the country. This, coupled with new mask-wearing guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans may present a hopeful narrative; this pandemic is finally winding down. However, it isn’t time to celebrate just yet. 

Re-emergent diseases like pertussis, influenza, and tuberculosis are all preventable through early-childhood and yearly vaccinations. Yet, some people still choose to forego them. In 2015, a measles outbreak at the “Happiest Place on Earth” in Anaheim, CA prompted lawmakers to present a bill halting parents from using ‘personal belief’ as a means of vaccine exemption for their children. According to the magazine Fast Company, this caused a flood of “vaccine choice” propaganda to envelope the site, later making its way into mainstream media. 

Early childhood education settings like daycares, pre-schools, and kindergarten classrooms have perfect conditions for virus transmission; close proximity of students,  shared play and educational equipment, and (most disgusting of all) occasional lack of hygiene. Children like to play, touch things, and explore, and they won’t let grimey hands stop them. 

Reading this, you may be thinking, “Well, this isn’t a big deal. My child’s vaccinated, and this author is just a paranoid germaphobe!” 

I accept that the prior sentiment may be true, but that doesn’t mean that you’re immune from the problem (pun intended). Children may pick up diseases and spread them to vulnerable populations like the elderly and immunocompromised. 

According to the New York State Department of Health, all children attending public, private, or religious school must have “Diphtheria and Tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine and Pertussis vaccine (DTaP or Tdap), Hepatitis B vaccine, Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR), Polio vaccine, Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine, Tdap vaccine for Grades 6-12, Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) for Grades 7-12, Students in Grade 12 need an additional booster dose of MenACWY on or after their 16thbirthday, Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccine (HiB), and Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine (PCV).”

For the vaccine-hesitant among us, this may look like a lot – subjecting your child to science experiments. However, any fear that parents may have is needless. Arguments that vaccines cause developmental disorders have been debunked time-and-time again, and the researcher behind the paper that introduced the idea has since had his medical license revoked. Bottom line: outside of legitimate medical exemption,  there is no reason to not get vaccinated. 

This brings us to the ever-topical discussion of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that 13% of Americans won’t even consider getting vaccinated, citing stigma, rushed safety testing, and the new form of vaccine deliverance in mRNA. 

To be truthful,  I understand where these people are coming from. It’s scary, taking a leap of faith to get the vaccine – especially if you’re in an echochamber that spews anti-vaccine rhetoric. The truth of the matter is, this isn’t a leap of faith. These vaccines have been rigorously tried and tested. There’s nothing that hasn’t already been in a vaccine, or that you’ve consumed through food, medicine, or other substances. 

Finally, if you’re still not convinced: (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) there isn’t a microchip in the vaccine. Your life is probably very boring, and nobody wants to track you that badly.

For information about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.