Vaccine Hesitancy: The Deadly Threat Wandering Ever Since the Smallpox Era

“The people who have protected themselves and their children against the most brutal diseases, in the past, should embrace the opportunity to protect their families yet again.”

As more variants of the Covid-19 virus continue to circulate, the need for herd immunity increases. Yet, some people are still hesitant to get jabbed and are risking the lives of thousands each day by resisting vaccination.  While there are people that cannot take the vaccines due to underlying health conditions, those who refuse due to political preferences are only hurting the people that they claim to care about. By not trusting the process of vaccination, these people are threatening to undue hundreds of years of scientific advancement and growth that has aided the process of protecting humanity.

Vaccine hesitancy has been around since the beginning of the controversial practice. The start of modern vaccination processes came from the act of variolation. Variolation was the act of injecting the body slightly, to put in weakened smallpox from an infected individual. The hope for those being inoculated was that a weakened infection would set in, so that the body would be able to then create protective anti-bodies that would fight against stronger virus variants.

Although this practice was considered to be extraordinarily risky when it was first proposed, it gradually gained recognition as an effective way to save lives. As time went on, this practice became more refined, leading to the modern vaccine practices that are in place today. Due to the advancements made, deadly, contagious diseases such as measles, polio, smallpox, and chicken pox have been almost completely eradicated. However, some of the same people who got vaccines against these diseases refuse to get one of the multitudes of Covid-19 vaccines.

By not getting any of the highly effective vaccines, these people that claim to care about the lives of others are directly contributing to the deaths of family and friends. The new mutations of Covid-19, especially the Delta variant, are highly transmissible and extremely deadly. Yet, those with a vaccine are not as susceptible to the virus’ dangers and the vaccine may help keep one from getting seriously ill, even if they contract the virus. Places with high vaccine hesitancy and low herd immunity are witnessing an increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths that relate with the virus.

It is understandable to be wary of a new vaccine, especially when it has been produced in such a short span of time. However, research and evidence show that these vaccines significantly reduce the probability of contracting the virus. They are effective at saving lives and the vaccinated people have a better chance of surviving Covid-19.

There is a generation of people that fail to understand the severity of the aforementioned almost eradicated viruses because vaccines have been proven to be effective against them. The people who have protected themselves and their children against the most brutal diseases, in the past, should embrace the opportunity to protect their families yet again. Loosing family and friends to a disease is a difficult and highly emotional event but it is an event that can be avoided if people put aside their selfish reasons, and look towards the safety of others. Protecting the lives of others should not be political, and yet people have made it so that it is.

Author’s Note:

I am very fortunate to live and study in cities that mostly embrace and understand the science behind the vaccines. However, I know of friends and family members that live in places where many people do not get a vaccine for political reasons. Somehow, those that resist being jabbed are always surprised when Covid-19 takes the life of someone they knew. Variolation and vaccines were invented to protect us, and we should understand that it is for the safety of all.

REFERENCES

MacDonald NE; “Vaccine Hesitancy: Definition, Scope and Determinants.” Vaccine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25896383/ .

Ali, Nusayba, and Diane Ashiru-Oredope. “How to Address Vaccine Hesitancy.” The Pharmaceutical Journal, 2 June 2021, https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/ld/how-to-address-vaccine-hesitancy .

“All Timelines Overview.” Timeline | History of Vaccines, 2018, www.historyofvaccines.org /timeline/all.

Johannesburg. Vaccine Hesitancy: What It Means and What We Need to Know in Order to Tackle It. World Health Organization, 2020.

Madeleine Smith is a junior history major at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., United States.

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