Does everyone need to be vaccinated?

Grade Level: 
11

Hi, Stefan.

Technically, no. Not every single person needs to be vaccinated to protect a population from a disease for which there is a vaccine. But ALMOST everyone needs to be vaccinated. And everyone SHOULD be vaccinated. The percent of people that can get away without it is less than 10% (and sometimes less than 5%!). “Herd immunity” or “community immunity” is when having most of the population vaccinated against a disease makes it very difficult for that disease to spread.

vaccines

Vaccines are made from dead or weakened pieces of bacteria or viruses. Your body responds to the molecules and learns how to defend against them. Then, if you are exposed to the active bacteria or virus, your immune system is trained to defend against it. Image via Wikimedia Commons by melvil.

Vaccines are made from dead or weakened bacteria or viruses that cause the disease the vaccine tries to prevent. Other harmless ingredients (such as gelatin and egg proteins) are sometimes included. There are a number of people who have allergic reactions to vaccines (usually to some of these extra ingredients), so we cannot require those people to be vaccinated. But everyone else should be vaccinated. There is a huge amount of evidence showing that vaccines are not dangerous unless you are allergic. And history has shown us just how important vaccines are to fight diseases.

Recently, many people have avoided getting their children vaccinated, as they incorrectly feel that vaccines may cause developmental issues like autism. This is not true.

Recent work has shown that some counties in the US have rates of unvaccinated children that are reaching dangerous levels. The high numbers of unvaccinated children in California is believed to have worsened a recent outbreak of measles in southern California in 2015. Because of this, California made stricter vaccination laws in 2016, which has helped lower the numbers of unvaccinated children.

Your medical doctor will know what vaccines to recommend. Vaccines are a valuable medical tool to help keep people healthy. They are tested for many years before they are given to the general public and they are safe. So while everyone doesn’t HAVE to be vaccinated, according to medical doctors and scientists, everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated. Only those with allergies or other medical issues should avoid vaccination.

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Vaccine being given to a Navy recruit

Research shows that unless you have a medical reason to avoid getting a vaccination, you should be vaccinated. It will protect yourself and help protect your community.

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