SDGs 3 (good health and wellbeing) and 11 (sustainable cities and communities)
You would think that the happiest place on earth would be safe from the Measles. Right?!
In this year alone, there have been 465 cases of the measles in the US.
This is the second-greatest number of cases (greatest was in 2014 with 667) reported since measles was eliminated in 2000. This number is most likely due to the rising number of personal exemptions from vaccines. The most common reason for personal exemption is philosophy, with 17 states allowing exemptions due to personal beliefs. (see below)
The US values freedom more than anything else. After all, it’s what the county was founded for. However, our love for freedom will tend to (not go with) with our actual physiological need for safety (according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). Different people have different ideas about the balance between health and safety, which is where the clash between pro and anti-vaxxers is located. Another controversial thing about this topic is the science VS pseudoscience and conspiracies behind each side. On the pro-vaccine side, there are many many studies that support vaccines and even debunk myths on the anti-vaxx side. Regarding anti-vaxx “science” (too much?), there was one (infamous) study that suggested vaccines caused autism. However, these myths were all debunked by countless studies as well as resulting in the license of the scientist who wrote the paper was quickly revoked (rephrase) Basically, credible pro-vaccine studies greatly outnumber credible anti-vaccine ones.
A quick bioethics crash course:
Before we get into discussing each side’s arguments: first, a quick “principles of bioethics” crash course. We use the principles of bioethics to help us analyze cases and answer ethical questions that we ask in our research.
|Autonomy||A patient has the right to make their own decisions if deemed competent|
|Beneficence||What does the MOST GOOD? What course of treatment/path results in the optimal situation?|
|Non-maleficence||What does the LEAST HARM? How can we prevent others from getting hurt physically, mentally, and/or emotionally?|
|Justice||5 theories of justice: equality, equity (input oven output), power, need (those who need, get), and responsibility (those with more are responsible for the less fortunate)|
Let’s look at each side:
Public health overrides personal freedom because whether a child is vaccinated affect the entire population. The normalization of not getting vaccinated due to personal preference has caused an increase in the number of unvaccinated people, which can be deadly for people who ACTUALLY cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons.
The more people are vaccinated, the closer we get to eradicating awful but preventable diseases and keeping more and more people safe. Basically, more vaccines = less bad diseases
Vaccines prevent diseases that can be fatal, and if not can cause significant harm. By getting vaccinated, you not only protect yourself but also others from these diseases.
How exactly do these diseases spread? Check out these two activities below to learn more:
Although there are certain people who choose not to vaccinate because of personal preference, there are some who cannot get vaccinated because of legitimate medical reasons. When people don’t get vaccinated, they put others at risk for these diseases. Although they could get vaccinated, they choose not to, which goes against our responsibility for others (who can’t be vaccinated).
Parents should decide whether their children – not the government or schools. Children are the responsibility of the parent, and parents know their children’s needs better than anyone else, so they should decide.
What do YOU think? Here are some scenarios to help you think about it: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSevthBFGPe43g0FqynmB2rlVFllfECW6NYM0F2U-1vIO8BEHA/viewform?usp=sf_link
Letting people choose their own path of treatment instead of forcing them to do something against their will does more good. Also, vaccines have harmful side effects that can have lasting effects on children. Therefore, not vaccinated them is beneficial to their health.
Vaccines are infamous for the serious health issues they can cause. By vaccinating, you put your child at risk for these extremely harmful lifelong illnesses.
People make a LOT of money on vaccines that could seriously harm others (power). Also, the government and schools trying to make vaccines 100% required is another example of power.
Let’s sum it up:
Watch this video to learn more about the “anti” vaccine side in a more humane way.
What do you think?
Let’s continue the discussion! Use the padlet link below to contribute
Having children made us look differently at all these things that we take for granted, like taking your child to get a vaccine against measles or polio.Melinda Gates
Personal freedom is important. This issue has brought to light how personal freedom always comes with a catch, which I think we blow out of proportion when discussing vaccines as opposed to other things such as driving, which is equally as dangerous to the public. Still, get vaccinated. Seriously. I can list all the scientific studies and educational videos out there, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t hear it from a real person, rather than an ugly university research page (no offense). First of all, why spend so much time and energy going against these credible, proven studies if you or your (future) child is at a greater risk for awful awful diseases and risk being ostracized from society. Also, your (future) child can face undeserved backlash for a decision that you made, which is a massive burden to put on them. Vaccinating your kids isn’t only the most medically sound option, but also the most practical for you and the people around you.
WHAT CAN I DO?
The thing is, a lot of us are legally minors whose parents take care of their medical appointments. However, soon we’ll be going to college, getting a job, getting married, and maybe even having kids. It’s never too early (or late!) to start educating ourselves on vaccines and our health, but it’s important to get our information from credible sources. If you aren’t already vaccinated and CAN (don’t get vaccinated if there are actual health complications), try and talk to your parent or guardian about it. For now, participating in conferences (like this one!) and standing up for what you believe in are the best ways to take action now.
This topic is extremely important. As much as we would like to believe that our choices
About the ~author~
Margot Hulme is a freshman (overall education wise – sophomore… it’s complicated) at Leaf Academy in Bratislava, Slovakia, although she is originally from New York. Margot was inspired to take this course because she always wondered if the things she saw in Grey’s Anatomy were legal/reasonable, so bioethics was a perfect fit. In addition to this class, Margot also does a lot of volunteering, homework, and missing her dog.