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  • Immunize for Immunity

The World Before Vaccination

Written by Shrinidhi Sathish

Imagine a world where a single disease starts in a single household. Then, it spreads to the neighboring house, and soon, the entire surrounding community has been infected by it. Within weeks, even days, the illness has affected a majority of the village in which the outbreak first began. It is only a matter of time before the region, state, country, and ultimately, a large part of the world has been afflicted. This pattern of infection can be categorized as an epidemic, or a pandemic on a large enough scale.

That is the kind of contagion that roamed the streets of a pre-vaccine world. A world where treatments of the sort we have today were nowhere to be found. People died on a daily basis from illnesses that could have been prevented, but the resources to do so were not available at the time, nor was the technology. Fortunately for us, a man by the name of Edward Jenner developed the first successful vaccine for smallpox in 1796, revolutionizing the medical industry in a way that had never been done before.

After this precedent, more and more vaccines were developed, with the most rapid production occurring in the twentieth century. Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and other deadly diseases could then be inoculated against. Gone were the days when the parents of a child that contracted chicken pox no longer had to fear for his life. He, along with millions of other people, had the ability to survive thanks to advancements in vaccination. The more research was in progress, the lower death rates dropped in cases.

People tend to forget this huge shift in the likelihood of survival for some, if not most, diseases. We forget how the world was before vaccination, and how it is now. That is the primary reason why people hesitate to vaccinate either themselves or their children, the latter of which are the most susceptible to sickness due to a weaker immune system. They fail to realize that if they were alive just a few centuries back, there would be no question as to whether to vaccinate or not. It was the best option - better than dying.

That is what I am asking you to consider. There may be side effects to vaccination, but the main point is this: the benefits outweigh the costs. Some people may be more vulnerable to the downsides of vaccination, but these are the special cases. The vast majority are safer having been vaccinated than not. Many of the diseases that vaccines prevent are far more harmful than any aftereffects that could accompany said vaccine. It may seem like a gamble, but there is almost nothing to lose. After all, a temporarily sick child is better than a dead one.

In simple terms: the return on investment is higher than the risk. Get the facts. Do the vax.

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