Get your vaccinations, protect your community

Get your vaccinations, protect your community

Lanthorn Editorial Board

At a university of almost 25,000, it’s alarming to know that GVSU’s vaccination rates fall below the national average, leaving many at risk to the spread of some previously irradiated infections. While the university does not require vaccinations, just as Michigan’s 12 other universities do not, they do recommend them. In fact, GVSU openly encourages the following vaccines: influenza, MMR, meningitis, meningitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, varicella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, HPV, pneumococcal and polio. 

It is not enough, however, for a university to just ask this of their community. Parents and individuals across the country must take the timely precautions to vaccinate themselves and their children, in the case of those who can. 

Director of Simulation at the Cook DeVos Center for Health Sciences, Katie Branch, had this to say about vaccinations: “They protect not only the individual, but the entire community by reducing the spread of infectious agents to those who have not been vaccinated or those who cannot be protected by vaccines. For example, individuals allergic to vaccine components or those suffering from illnesses that weaken the immune system, such as cancer.”

A strange thing is happening in the world of medicine, according to a 2019 article from the New York Times. Nearly 20 years ago, the health threat measles was believed to be eliminated, but since Jan. 1, ten states have reported cases of measles according to federal health records. Health experts say the rise in vaccine resistance could raise the chances of an outbreak, putting people at risk who cannot be immunized.

This resistance is connected to a broader anti-vax movement, with some citing health concerns and others claiming the same connection to autism that has been previously and widely debunked. Of the 101 confirmed measles cases nationwide, many were located in the western range between Washington and Oregon, where the percentage of residents who declined vaccines is one of the highest in the country.

Following the measles outbreak, vaccination rates soared in the areas most affected by the outbreak according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means there is still some sense when it comes to vaccinations, but it shouldn’t take disease flareup to start to take action.

The outbreak in the Pacific Northwest is a direct example of what happens when a clustered population does not get immunized; a health measure which has been verified by doctors for centuries to be both safe and necessary. Those who still require their vaccinations should recognize the risks not being protected by vaccines and the potential harm it can bring their surrounding community.

GVSU’s community, with the support from its health services and Student Health and Wellness Task Force, are continuing to voice support for receiving the recommended vaccinations. Informing others on the importance of immunizations and promoting healthy living is also a vital action that should be taken by everyone.

The vaccination issue is not one of poor science or health risks, but one of miscommunication and safety. Trusting the science that has helped eradicate infections and find cures for various diseases is essential to keeping our communities healthy. Immunization protects not only the individual but also the community around them, so eat right, do your research, but most of all: get your vaccinations.