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Do some shots...save some lives

While most times I’m pretty easy-going and can keep my opinions to myself, there are times when something really has me forming a strong opinion and I just can’t help but get involved in the conversation.

In this case, it’s a fairly hot topic... vaccines. And the need to vaccinate and get adult boosters.

I will put it right out here at the beginning. I am pro-vaccine.

So why am I strongly on this side of the issue? Because I know they work to protect us from deadly diseases.

You see, the scientific community, and those who work on, develop and monitor the vaccines, have a process they follow to get a drug approved, and then make sure it remains safe for the general population.

Before vaccines, diseases like polio, smallpox, measles, whooping cough, mumps and diptheria ran rampant around the world. In places where vaccines are not as easily accessible or as widely used, some of these diseases still remain. But, since the invention of the vaccines for these various diseases, the number of cases has rapidly declined. And, those who are infected have a higher chance of survival.

Now, I know there are those who will claim that the numbers were on the decline prior to the vaccination, or that getting the disease builds up a natural immunity and that’s better for your body. But, the statistics show that these diseases were not on the decline.

As for getting polio, smallpox, whooping cough, etc., so your body builds up a natural immunity - fine, if you’re a normally healthy person. But what about those who aren’t normally healthy?

In my family, three people very close to me are either currently undergoing treatment for cancer or did so recently and their immune systems are compromised. I am also 36 weeks pregnant and will soon have a small child whose immune system will not be ready to handle such strong infections.

In both of these cases, they rely on ‘herd immunity’, which is where enough of the general population has their vaccinations up to date (yes, your immunity can fade over time and there are adult boosters available, so go get them!). When enough people surrounding those who are immuno-compromised, they are generally protected. No, it’s not 100 percent effective, but it does prevent huge outbreaks, like the recent mumps outbreak in Southern Manitoba or measles in the United States.

Now, some people will argue that being vaccinated is a personal choice. Except it’s not. A personal choice doesn’t affect thousands of other people. Public school vs. private school. Religion or no religion. These are personal choices. But when someone chooses not to vaccinate because they ‘don’t believe the science’, or ‘Big Pharma is just out to make money’, they put a lot of people in a place of unnecessary risk.

There are also many myths about vaccines and their links to getting the disease or other illnesses, or the harm they can cause by getting too many at once, but none of these have been proven. In fact, the most prevalent rumour about a link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been disproven and the author has had his medical license revoked.

I’m sure I won’t convince everyone, but I can encourage you to look at peer-reviewed, legitimate sources (sorry, anecdotal stories and naturalnews.com don’t count as they aren’t researched), and talk to your doctor about the risks of being vaccinated or unvaccinated.

And, in the end, I can really hope that you’ll choose to vaccinate because you realize that it really is proven to eliminate disease and keep ourselves and the people around us healthy.

Jessica Bergen