by Brynn Smith ‘19
In 1796, Edward Jenner, an English physician and scientist, inoculated a 13-year-old boy with a virus that demonstrated immunity to smallpox. In 1798, he developed the first vaccine for the disease and pioneered the science known as vaccinology. Since then, prevention of viral infections like tetanus, whooping cough, and polio, have been all too easy. Go to the doctor, get a shot, and become immune to all sorts of nasty viruses. But, apparently it’s not that simple anymore.
Using social media and online groups to bolster their influence, vaccine misinformation groups are quickly becoming the next epidemic. Groups like “Stop Mandatory Vaccination” and “A Voice for a Choice” aim to promote people’s rights to be fully informed about the dangers of vaccines. The problem with that is there aren’t any. But, parents who buy into the deception, while believing they are only doing what is best for their children, are endangering everyone else. That is why, social media sites like Facebook, Youtube, and Pinterest have taken measures to prevent the escalation of this misinformation by lowering the ranking of these pages. Unfortunately, this is not enough to extinguish the fire they’ve already started. Mandatory vaccinations are the one and only way to put an end to the spread of diseases that should have been eradicated decades ago.