Opinion: Fears surrounding the vaccine are harmful


Photo by Andie San Luis

A sign with information on COVID-19 vaccines is taped onto the door of CVS Pharmacy on Josey and Hebron. There are currently multiple eligible groups for the vaccination within four different phases: healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents, frontline essential workers, people over the age of 16 with pre-existing conditions and more.

COVID-19 vaccines have started to be administered around the United States. Unfortunately, many people won’t be getting the vaccine any time soon. Some of these people view the vaccine as an infringement on human rights. Others claim it is unsafe and deny the existence of the science proving vaccines are helpful. Others are simply concerned parents, nervous of the possible side effects. Unfortunately, some people, known as Anti-Vaxxers, oppose the use of vaccines and actively spread misinformation about the vaccine. Being a part of the Anti-Vaxxer movement is dangerous for many reasons, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

In 1998, former medical doctor Andrew Wakefield suggested a possible correlation with the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism in children. “The Lancet,” the scientific journal that initially published his study, withdrew the article in 2004 after an investigation found his study to be full of flaws. A “British Medical Journal” investigation later found Wakefield guilty of deliberate fraud. Wakefield’s medical license was suspended for abusing a position of trust to provoke a dishonest controversy. Others later found MMR vaccinations did not increase the risk of autism at all. 

This controversy years ago is what is believed to have begun the Anti-Vaxx movement. Because of Wakefield, millions of people today aren’t vaccinated because they believe it could cause autism in their children. Vaccines are now safer than many other common medications and procedures, saving millions of lives each year. And the people actively spreading false information about vaccines are the start of an even bigger problem.

The Anti-Vaxxer movement influences people’s decisions to vaccinate their children, risking not only their own health and well-being but the well-being of others. There are even Facebook groups dedicated to convincing others how awful vaccines can be, spreading inaccurate information to clueless parents trying to protect their children.

Anti-vaccine groups on Facebook are followed by 31 million people, with 17 million people subscribing to similar accounts on YouTube. A new report by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has noted that social media accounts have increased their following by at least seven million people since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Vaccines are simply one of the safest and most effective ways to conquer infectious disease. They have had a huge impact on reducing the amount of infectious disease cases worldwide. The CDC estimates that more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years will be prevented because of vaccinations.

It is so important to vaccinate yourself and your children. Vaccines, especially the COVID-19 vaccine, can save lives and protect others. Some schools or childcare facilities require vaccinations, a good enough reason to vaccinate children if the others aren’t enough. If you have a concern about vaccinating yourself or your children, I would recommend talking to your doctor to get their opinion. Research can be done about the side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine, if you’re specifically hesitant about that one. In the majority of cases, the potential concern for the disease a vaccine is designed to prevent is much larger than the potential concern for the vaccine.