False Alarm

March 8, 2011
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New arrivals from Peru disembarked and soon they disappeared into the bustling crowd of travelers, however, one middle-aged woman stood in shock of the organized havoc that greatly contrasted her isolated village on the foot of the majestic Andes. Her sister insisted that she visit her in America and even promised to pay the two-way ticket; how could one resist to such an offer? Especially when death becomes a daily occurrence with its foul breath pervading throughout Peru. H1N1, more commonly known as Swine Flu, had broken through borders of society, for the even the elite of Peruvian society suffered of the new strain of influenza. Worst of all, no vaccine existed against this biological menace.
Within two days of her arrival, Ester felt sluggish with fever and incessant shaking chills, all consistent with symptoms of Swine Flu. Ester alerted her sister and asked if she knew of an affordable doctor. Later that week, Ester visited a local clinic and the doctor’s concerned countenance distressed Ester.
Perplexed, Ester only faintly distinguished her niece’s voice, translating the horrific news; she tested positive for H1N1. Ester is my aunt. How could this have happened?
An important factor in the spread of such diseases generally begins with the increased contact with people of various corners of the world. In this modern world, technology allows for maximum globalization of goods, ideas and also diseases. The airports around the world boast of cutting-edge security technology, yet virulent pathogens pass through, uncontested, ready to pounce on unaware victims. Although developed countries attempt to control the entrance of these diseases, nothing effectively contains the exchange, for modern business depends on the availability of international markets; therefore, people of countries with more familiarity of vaccinations interact directly with people that do without vaccinating.
The question is not, “Will there be another epidemic?” but rather “When?’

Fig 1. The number of confirmed Swine Flu cases around the world (How).

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In history, various diseases account for millions of deaths, destroying societies and displacing generations of people. The Black Plague reminds humans of the devastation caused by infected rats that cared fleas and later bit human with the Bubonic Plague, for between 1348 and 1352, one out of every three Europeans perished under the clenched hand of Death. Although the sanitary conditions in cities improved dramatically since the Middle Ages and the fields of medicine exponentially grows, debate continues to surround whether federal governments’ attain the jurisdiction to mandate vaccination to all its citizens. America depicts the beacon of personal freedoms; however, the government must intervene in the purpose of protecting its citizens.

Enforcing mandatory vaccination requirements for children in order to be accepted into public facilities such like school or childcare services has culminated in low numbers of outbreaks of dangerous children diseases. The diversity of America’s population contributes to many of its virtues, unfortunately, the innumervarietyy of ethnicities, languages and religious denominations construct new elements to the controversy. The stress on protecting personal belief above government results in the voluntary immunization of young children. In the United States “all states and the District of Columbia allow exemptions from the requirements for medical reasons, […] all but two offer exemptions to accommodate religious beliefs” most shockingly though “20 states allow exemptions based on parents’ personal beliefs” increasing the number of American that are unvaccinated (“Vaccines”). This new option resulted recently increased outbreaks of measles, pertussis and chickenpox compared to the previous decade. Americans must realize that relying on others to be immunized cannot serve as their only precaution against these diseases. The government must regulate the direct impact of not vaccinating to the risks that ramify from such decisions. However, many people residing in the United States make up the new wave of immigrants that often are not informed of such resources due to language barriers or unfamiliarity with vaccines. The government through initiatives of translated propaganda or public conventions within these ethnic communities must overcome the obstacles. In addition, the individual decision of a few people not only impacts communities socially but also economically. In an article by the Iowa Measles Response Team, found that the “ total […] cost of one case of measles [estimated at] $142,452” in 2004, with three-fourths attributed to personnel and equipment costs (“Personal”). Who would pay the cost? At best, the patient’s health insurance would pay 80% or $113, 961.60, and that is if the patient has health insurance, otherwise, the government would be expected to pay the majority. In such a tough times, America cannot withstand such preventable costs. In order to more effectively manage such occurrence, the government must mandate vaccines for children, teens and adults unless they have a medical exemption. The media easily impresses the average individual, and so feelings of fear and desperation quickly spark reactions that at times prevent pragmatic thinking; allowing the government to regulate immunization prevents radical solutions.

In 2004, Andrew Wakefield stood in of the General Medical Council and received the news that he no a doctor, for the verdict banned him from practicing medicine again. After more than a decade of research to determine if vaccines caused autism, for Wakefield announced in 1998 that there existed a direct correlation between the two. However, the medical community has come to a consensus that vaccines are unrelated to autism. The “rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%” worldwide; soon enough outbreaks of measles, varicella and pertussis manifested all around the world (“Evidence”). Andrew Wakefield irresponsibly publicized his results without further research. Throughout the world’s search for the supposed relation, not a single doctor could consistently produce the same results. This led to mass skepticism of Wakefield’s results. The public only recently accepted that Wakefield’s theory was false. This could all be prevented if the government takes a more direct role in regulating medical information and controlling the measures taken to prevent disease of all its citizens. .

Needless to say, personal preferences contribute largely to American society, but in situations of public security, trained professional with extensive medical knowledge are more qualified to make such important decisions

Works Cited
“Evidence Shows Vaccines Unrelated to Autism.” Immunization Action Coalition. Web. 14 Feb. 2011.
How Vaccines Work. Chart. Vaccines, 2004. Print.
“Personal belief exemptions for vaccination put people at risk. Examine the evidence for yourself.” Immunization Action Coalition. Web. 14 Feb. 2011.
“Vaccines.” Current Issues: Macmillan Social Science Library. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 21 Jan. 2011.





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