It’s a popular fringe movement nowadays to not get vaccinated and, more importantly, not to get your children vaccinated. However, this movement may cause catastrophic harm rather than the benefit it claims to have.

Herd immunity (community immunity, for those who don’t want to be referenced to cattle) is where immunity exists because a significant portion of the population of people provides some protection against contagious diseases. These diseases need transmission from individual to individual, but if the chain of infection is broken by vaccinated people, the probability of that disease spreading to someone who may be susceptible to it is a lot smaller.

The anti-vaccination movement is a group of individuals claiming that vaccinations do more harm than help. One claim is that autism is linked to having your children vaccinated. However, new studies show that autism may form in the brain well before the child is born, having nothing to do with vaccinations.

There are many misconceptions to not be vaccinated, but the Center for Disease Control has released data and facts that put these misconceptions to rest.

However, the detrimental effects of this movement can already be seen in urban epicenters where herd immunity is most vital.

Forty-nine confirmed cases of measles have cropped up in sunny California in the Sacramento Valley. I think it’s interesting that a measles outbreak is happening where celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy live and push for the anti-vaccination movement. Orange and Los Angeles counties lead the number of cases with 21 cases in Orange County and 10 in Los Angeles County.

However, it’s not being contained in California: 228 cases of measles have been confirmed in British Columbia. Measles is easily spread through the air and through contact with those infected by the disease. Doctors say the best defense against measles is immunization.

In 2010, California experienced the largest outbreak of whooping cough in 50 years. This outbreak resulted in 9,120 cases and 10 deaths in California. What did the experts blame this outbreak on? Parents not vaccinating their children. I know several parents, including my own family members, who were petrified of their children catching whooping cough.

Diseases that exhibit the symptoms of polio have also plagued California recently. Twenty cases of this disease were reported in February of this year. Polio has been reported as eradicated from the United States, and only three countries in the world are still plagued by it — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

However, could this new movement and lack of vaccination lead to an outbreak of diseases that we have not experienced in a very long time?

With the world being connected easily through air travel, it’s easy to spread diseases from countries that are plane rides away, such as the outbreak of cholera in Mexico and the ebola that is infecting Guinea.

So, those of you who are smart and traveling, please make sure you wash your hands often. If you are feeling sick, stay home. Don’t come to campus and spread your germs.

Most importantly, do your research. Before any half-baked celebrity convinces you that you shouldn’t vaccinate your children, perhaps you should find out for yourself what the experts say and do your research to back up claims. Through smart choices and common sense, our children, as well as ourselves, can stay happy and healthy.

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