The vaccination debate continues in the presidential campaign. And, many medical experts believe Trump’s fear-based comment about the link between autism and vaccinations is dangerous for families and the community at large. There are rare exceptions where vaccines caused severe reactions; however, studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccinations and developing autism. Vaccinations save millions of live. The benefits of vaccinations outweighs their risk.
I believe in advocating for our own families; however, when your actions affect the greater health of the community you need to accept the consequences. When government guidelines require specific vaccinations before a child enters kindergarten, then I think families who make the choice not to vaccinate their children (for personal reasons, not medical reasons) ought to home-school their children—that’s how strongly I feel about vaccinations. Because of the 1990s deadly measles outbreak in Minnesota, one of our daughters had to get an additional measles vaccination due to our exposure to community mostly affected.
From thirteen to sixteen years-old, I volunteered as candy striper at a local hospital. My assignments were simple tasks that supported the patients’ need such as, filling their water, delivering their food trays, or bringing them an extra blanket—but I took the job seriously. It felt good knowing that I was helping others.
At the same time, my volunteer experience exposed me to some of the consequences of infectious diseases. The patient who impacted me the most, to quit fussing about getting vaccinations, was the young women in the iron lung. She had polio. She was only in her mid-twenties and was confined to a large machine to help keep her alive. Because only her head was exposed from the machine, she learned to paint holding the paintbrush in her mouth. My job was to hold the paint pallet so she could enjoy painting.
Watch a video clip to learn more about the iron lung
As a carefree teen, it was alarming to see the damaging effects caused by polio—a vaccine-preventable disease. Since 1979, the U.S. has been polio free, thanks to the polio vaccine. However, the crippling and potentially deadly polio virus is still a threat in some countries. It only takes one case of an infectious disease to cause concern, because it can quickly cause an outbreak. The range of symptoms can be from mild to severe and life-threatening. With the ease of access to travel around the world it’s important that you and your family have up-to-date vaccinations.
The infographic below (compiled by designer Leon Farrant) shows the dramatic impact of vaccinations.
Your vaccinations also help people who cannot receive them for health reasons. For example, people with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses when exposed to diseases. Our friend Steve, who has been sick since childhood, had a double-lung transplant in 2014. He relies on the people around him to be up-to-date on their vaccinations to help protect him—it’s a matter of life and death.
Are your vaccinations up-to-date? Educate yourself on the positive impact of vaccinations. Visit the Public Health Organization to gain a better understanding of vaccines.