Vaccines: from miracle to possible danger

Vaccination 2019 Cholera

UNZimbabwe/2018 The Oral Cholera Vaccine is being administered in the most affected areas around Harare. 03 October 2018.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms. Agnė Lozovskytė , a first-year Vilnius University medicine student from Lithuania. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect neither IFMSA’s nor The European Sting’s view on the topic.

Nowadays, the topic of vaccinations is still popular and it is unreasonable, considering the fact that vaccines were first introduced in 1796 and since then diseases like diphtheria, chickenpox (varicella), measles and many more have been eradicated. However, people still argue that by vaccinating children, the parents are putting them in danger.

For many years scientists and medical doctors have been trying to prove how crucial vaccinations are using evidence-based statistics that show a significant drop in children’s mortality due to vaccinations. Despite the scientific proof, the discussion is still ongoing, which is why it is important to stop trying to prove the “anti-vaccination’’ supporters wrong, but rather to try to understand the motive behind their choice.

The main reason the anti- and pro-vaccination debate started was the research paper linking vaccines to autism. The Lancet published this study in 1998, however, the magazine completely retracted the paper in February 2010, admitting that several elements in the paper were incorrect. On the other hand, many scientists believe that the reason behind this heated discussion is how medicine is advancing in the recent years.

Unlike now, earlier it was unknown that syndrome varies along a spectrum of severity and was only diagnosed when a child under age of three demonstrated problems with language development and lack of responsiveness. Now it is agreed that a specific age and language impairment are not sufficient enough to make the diagnosis. As for the causes of autism, they still remain unknown.

Due to this fact, people have been trying to understand it on their own, which only proves that appropriate explanation is highly important, as well as learning how to choose information wisely. Therefore, while many things were linked to autism like plastic, sugar, GMO and etc., only vaccines have been highlighted with no scientific proof behind it.

In fact, over a dozen peer-reviewed papers have found no correlation between autism and vaccines. However, the anti-vaccination movement has been strongly influenced by misinterpreting modern science’s achievements and is putting children in serious danger.

Haemophilus influenza type B can cause brain damage, hearing impairment or even death and diphtheria can lead to heart failure, paralysis. These are only two examples of diseases, which can be prevented by vaccines. Our modern society does not even know about these illnesses and the serious damage that they can do to the body.

That leads to parents trying prevent autism, instead of serious and lethal diseases only because the information they are following is not accurate. Since 1994 measles has been that rare, that they are ever considered unheard of, therefore they are not considered as a threat.

Thus, modern society simply forgot what major success vaccines actually are. In conclusion, many lethal diseases are no longer endangering children and adults, and it may seem as an accomplishment for humanity, however, this unreasonable threat of autism is causing parents to doubt the effectiveness of vaccines.

About the author

This article is written by a first-year Vilnius University medicine student Agnė Lozovskytė from Lithuania. Ms. Lozovskytė is affiliated to Lithuanian Medical Students’ Association. She is interested in childhood illnesses and their causes, genetic diseases and medical research. She has volunteered in kindergartens, animal shelters, VULSK hospital and engages in writing articles on said topics as a representative of Public Relations and Communication team.

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