Vaccine Mutant Apocalypse: What even are Vaccines and The Anti Vax Movement?


Roslynn Besel, Reporter

All over the internet there are memes about “anti-vaxxers” and heated arguments in comment sections over whether or not kids should be vaccinated. The debate between anti-vaxxers and people who are pro vaccines goes all the way back to the 18th century, when they were first introduced, and continues to be a charged topic in today’s politics.

A study done by The Washington Post found that the majority of Americans actually believe vaccinations should be mandatory, but nearly twenty percent disagree. States have laws in place making vaccinations mandatory in schools, however they do make a few exceptions. According to AP Government teacher Mike Schaefer,”Our state historically has allowed exemptions based off three different circumstances. There’s religious objections, medical exemptions, and philosophical exemptions, which are the most controversial.” Religious exemptions are allowed because of the first amendment’s free exercise clause, but only a few religions are openly against vaccines. These religions include the Christian Scientists and the Dutch Reformed Church. While religious and medical exemptions are seen to be legitimate by the government and the general public, more and more states have been getting rid of the controversial philosophical exemptions, including Washington state. Schaefer said, “Philosophical reasons for being against vaccines would be like believing they cause autism or that the government is unnecessarily using us like guinea pigs, stuff like that.” The number of philosophical concerns has been growing and according to Schaefer, many of those people are using, and in some cases abusing, religious exemptions.

With increasing numbers of philosophical concerns has come more room for debate when outbreaks of diseases occur. An instance of this is happening locally right now with the measles outbreaks getting reported across the state. Since the conditions are serious the state is being stricter on vaccinations and has gotten rid of philosophical exemptions meaning parents can’t exempt their kids for personal beliefs. This has sparked some uproar in the community from anti-vaxxers, but it is mostly supported due to the severity of the sickness. A lot of people are have opinions on the subject including OHS senior Samantha Blevens, “I think it’s important for kids to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from diseases and they should definitely be mandatory unless there’s some kind of medical issue.” Blevens is one of many who is on the pro vaccine side of the debate, but there are also many who oppose. Some well known anti-vaxxers include Jenny McCarthy, who believes her son’s autism was a result of vaccines, and Jenna Elfman, who believes it takes away parental rights.

Vaccines have been around in some form or another for centuries, and so has the debate surrounding them. There are records of inoculation dating back to the 17th century, but Edward Jenner is considered the discoverer of vaccinology since he inoculated a child with cowpox, making him immune to smallpox in the late 1700’s. According to the school nurse Janene Jorgenson, “Vaccinations work by making us produce antibodies that help us develop immunities to harmful diseases.” When this method was first introduced it was met with a lot of skepticism from people who didn’t think it was safe, marking the beginning of a centuries long debate. Vaccinations were eventually mainstreamed and the vaccination act of 1853 made it a law for all infants to get vaccinated.

The debate surrounding vaccines and who should get them is a long standing one that continues to be a controversial political topic. Currently, there are several states passing laws that make it harder for kids to go to school unvaccinated, but there are still those fighting against them.