One of the greatest achievements in public health are vaccines. They have succesfully been developed to protect our population from illnesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created the perfect storm for anti-vaxxers. Powered by algorithms, they’re spreading false information and fear on social media; eroding the integrity of science. They ignore the fact that vaccines eradicated serious and often fatal diseases like polio, smallpox and typhoid.

We had major outbreaks of measles both in New Zealand and America over the past few years. Why? Because a lot of people aren’t convinced it’s necessary to vaccinate their children. With a herd amount of anti-vaxxers we do risk the return of diseases that we thought had been successfully eliminated.

Anti-vaxxers claim that vaccines are very dangerous, even though extensive research shows the opposite. They’re in fact quite safe in general, with a few exceptions of anecdotic stories.

Do we really want to go back to a world where children get polio or smallpox? Don’t get me wrong, there should be ongoing research regarding vaccines, ANY type of medicine. I’m listening to consistent evidence. Scientific studies that the medically educated elite overall agree with and supports.

Anti-vaxxers keep digging up one false publication that has been debunked many times about how vaccination is linked to autism. Some parents have opted out of having their children vaccinated because of this erroneous study by A. Wakefield (1998), which suggested a link between vaccinations and autism spectrum disorder. The study that had a sample size of just 12 children (and was also funded by parents suing vaccine companies), underwent further inspection and has since been retracted, and Wakefield’s medical license was taken away due to falsified data. Since then, there have been over 25 studies that disprove a connection between autism and the MMR vaccin.

There will always be people who might respond in an abnormal way to a vaccine. Medicine in general has that effect, but it is aimed to cure people. My daughter is allergic to a certain type of antibiotics (stated on the medical bracelet she’s wearing). Does that mean other people shouldn’t take this medication when necessary?

When my GP diagnosed me with anaemia, he prescribed me an iron infusion. I had a severe allergic reaction to it, but I’m sure the majority of people that need it, will tolerate this treatment. My reaction was stated in the fine print ;-). I was just an exception.

It all has to do with the law of large numbers.

This pandemic has resulted in a worldwide devastation on many levels. The global death toll of COVID-19 is around 1.42 million at the moment. This is the consensus of all the statistic information I could find online. An unknown number is dealing with the long term effects of the virus.

Multiple vaccins for COVID-19 are on its way. Some people falsely believe that some of them can genetically modify human DNA. Which it can’t by design, see Reuters Fact Check team’s post.

Dedicated scientist have been already working for decades on mRNA vaccines to treat cancer and other diseases and this pandemic just accelerated this research and development. The mRNA vaccines have the potential to be even safer. Most existing vaccines use inactivated or dead virus, but this new method avoids that. I’m just paraphrasing what the experts say.

There are a lot of questions being asked about the long term effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. The experts say that they can never fully exclude the possibility, but they expect it’s going to be really rare. They explain that most of a vaccines job is done in the first few days, then it will be gone from your body. What’s left is the immune response to the vaccine. I want to believe they’re right, because they’re the experts.

I guess life is never without risks. Things do go wrong from time to time. A lot of us have travelled by plane. Have you ever asked what specific training the pilot had or when the aircraft had its last security check? I don’t think so. And yes, sometimes a plane crashes, but the majority reaches its destination.

When we just got out of our confinement bubbles, somewhere in April this year, I had a conversation with someone who claimed that the lockdown had not been necessary because we did not have COVID-19. Because of all the swift and hard measures New-Zealand took, we indeed don’t deal with it like the rest of the world (except for the occasional flare-ups which are stamped out immediately through isolation and contact tracing). It’s a simple causal link and it works the same for vaccines.

Vaccines have unfortunately fallen victim to their own succes. They have been so extremely successful at protecting people from dying of horrible diseases that it has tricked a part of our population into forgetting how it used to be before vaccinations.