We Shouldn't Have To Make A Case For Vaccines – They Work

We Shouldn't Have To Make A Case For Vaccines – They Work

Vaccination shouldn't be a controversial political issue, but a simple part of maintaining a healthy and safe community.

arjunt
arjunt
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Since Edward Jenner's discovery that using a small dosage of cowpox would keep an individual from contracting the more dangerous smallpox, his immunization technique—what we now call a vaccine—has become essential to our understanding of human health. Yet there are still skeptics who reject vaccines despite how they've eradicated smallpox from the world and diminished the presence of polio and other once vicious diseases. PBS Frontline noted in 2011 that one out of 20 kindergarten children didn't have the requisite vaccines to be at school, but they remained in school anyway. The irrational thinking on the part of anti-vax parents that lets these kids go to school without vaccines is based on particular medical mistakes and not in real corroborated medical science. This illogical thinking needs to stop if we are to promote a safe environment where pathogens remain non-communicable.

In most schools, which are pretty much Petri dishes where sickness can easily spread, administrations usually require medical paperwork from families, and for good reason—it's important to know how healthy their students are and if the school needs to accommodate them in any way. Among these files are immunization records in which specific vaccines are needed to attend school. The problem arises when schools offer religious exemptions for families that don't want to get vaccinated, making those who cannot be vaccinated due to allergies or health conditions more susceptible to the spread of pathogens.

Vaccinations stimulate the immune system to defend against viruses, but when citizens choose to deny inoculation, they are putting both themselves and others at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were over 2,000 cases of mumps in 2018. Outbreaks often occur when someone who isn't immunized is exposed to the disease while traveling abroad. When they bring the disease back home, the pathogen infects other humans and multiplies in its presence. The outbreaks could have been easily prevented if they had just been vaccinated earlier. On a side note, there were three cases of mumps diagnosed at U of M this fall, and while there was much humor to be had about the situation, the outbreak is emblematic of our need to vaccinate ourselves to maintain a healthy community.

Many parents demand exemption from vaccination because they believe vaccines cause autism. Most of these cases were not only misdiagnosed as autism, but no correlation was found between their condition and vaccines. The uproar regarding autism and vaccines has given rise to anti-vax movements in which worried mothers and fathers voice flawed concerns about the immunization process. While their concern is no doubt genuine, it's astounding how willing so many parents are to discredit the science behind vaccines and jump behind an illogical movement that is hurting every school's approach to health and safety.

It shouldn't be hard for our government to mandate vaccination in order to attend school regardless of religious or philosophical disagreement. It's been done before in Maryland and West Virginia, where a child must have the required vaccines to attend school and only medical exemptions are approved. It's certainly not a foolproof method as fake medical conditions can be forged, but the more direct approach would certainly help improve medical security in schools. While I'm not convinced that our current federal government will take much action in undercutting the anti-vax movement, it's clear that any government official, scientist, or parent who denies the credibility of vaccines and their benefit to society is playing a role in endangering our communities and subjecting the vulnerable to harmful diseases and pathogens once thought to be negligible. This is common sense and it shouldn't have to be said that science and vaccines are beneficial, but when the practice of discrediting science has suddenly become popular, whether it be in regards to climate change or vaccines, these movements surge in correlation.

Parents, just vaccinate your kids. It can't get any simpler.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Freshman Year Of College Taught Me Important Lessons That I'll Never Forget

What people don't tell you about your first year of college.

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Everyone looks forward to the day he or she walks across a stage and receives a high school diploma. The unlimited possibilities that college will hold for you and the new people you will meet are exciting. Going into college, I didn't know what to expect. I had heard stories on how to make friends, what to do to maintain a social and academic life, and how to not allow the new environment to overwhelm me. However, this did not make my transition into college any easier.

I believe the most important thing l learned that no one told me was the fact that not everyone is going to have the same heart as you, and that's okay. There will be people who will make you question if you made the right decision or if you are doing something wrong. I transitioned from being surrounded by people who had similar qualities as me to people surrounded by people who could not be more different. That is part of the college experience.

Everyone comes from somewhere different and think and act in various ways. College has made me more open to different ideas and allowed me to realize that not everyone will always be kind to you. How other people treat you is not always a reflection of how you treat them. College has taught me to let the little things that bother me go because there is no point to waste time on something that is not going to impact you in a positive manner.

The next lesson I've learned since I started college is that it's okay to be alone; it's even okay to want to be alone. One of the things stressed to me before I started college was to put myself out there and do everything I can do to meet new people. Which I did, and am so glad because I have met some people who I couldn't live without now.

However, that does not mean I never want alone time. For me, I have noticed that in order to focus on myself mentally I need a day or two away from all the commotion that is college. Being alone helps me clear my head and focus on what I need to do in order to be my bests self. I came to the conclusion that being alone and being lonely are two entirely different things, something I did not realize in high school.

Overall, the first semester of college helped me understand myself more. I know that in order to succeed you need to make yourself happy first, not anyone else. No matter how important they are to you. College is a tough transition for anyone, no matter how prepared you think you are. And by putting your needs first, it makes the transition a little easier.

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