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ADVANCE Discourse: Lab

Vaccination Perspectives

Published February 17, 2015 3:35 PM by Michael Jones

A combination of the continued national debate over the connection between autism and vaccines -- despite the hypothesized link having long-since been disproved -- and events like the measles outbreak spawning from Disneyland have led to a lot of vaccination-related headlines recently. Diseases like measles, which had been almost completely eliminated, have only resurfaced lately after movements in opposition of vaccinations became popularized. While many U.S. citizens consider vaccines to be perfectly safe and effective, there is also a growing population leaning the other way.

One particularly hard to digest piece of information, according to a piece from the Guardian, is that the millennial generation is actually the largest contributor to this expanding group -- specifically, “21% of people 18 and 29 believe in a link [to autism].” A different pole from TIME also had younger generations more inclined to support the idea that vaccines aren’t safe (though just 15 percent as opposed to 21 percent). Being a Millennial and having written about it somewhat extensively, I can certainly identify with the Guardian author’s similar situation and point-of-view.

A story noted above on the measles outbreak from the LA Times noted the importance of adult immunizations now more than ever, as “Adults pose a greater risk than children of passing on the disease because they travel and come into contact with more people.” It went on to note that some adults have not been fully vaccinated, due to a second dose only being recommended in 1989, and that there should be more “checkpoints between kindergarten and adulthood” in order to prevent these individuals from slipping through the cracks – this is especially relevant in educational organizations, where it’s important for both students and teachers to have been properly vaccinated.

Nonetheless, the TIME article brought up the interesting concept of “Herd immunization,” which relies on “92-95%” of a population to be vaccinated in order to safeguard the community. At present, “vaccination rates in the U.S. hover around 91%.” Although this isn’t necessarily a bad number, it could always be better and the recent upsurge in groups coming out against vaccinations could potentially lead to more troubling numbers.

As laboratory professionals, what are some of our readers’ thoughts on the subject? 

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