Ah, the vaccine debate. Just when you think it's going to die down, something happens to make it rage on. Forever and ever, it seems. Despite mounting scientific data that supports the benefits of vaccines, the topic surrounding whether or not children should be vaccinated is still hotly debated. It's emotional and difficult, and sometimes it seems impossible to come up with a definitive argument to shut it down. Until now, that is. This viral tweet about what people did before vaccines is essentially the only argument you'll ever need.
In case you haven't heard about the vaccination debate, let me wearily educate you as best I can. Parents have been immunizing their children against preventable diseases like the measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, and the mumps. A vaccine became available to help inoculate children against these diseases in 1963 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was pretty cool.
But since then, there has been conflicting information spread largely on the internet telling parents not to immunize their children for various reasons. One of the most common being the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism in children. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this theory, initially published by former Dr. Andrew Wakefield in 1998, was proven false and retracted, according to TIME, parents are still refusing to vaccinate their children.
This has created unfortunate issues for something called "herd immunity," according to Vaccines Today, which is what happens when a significant enough part of any community is vaccinated against a preventable disease in order to protect those who have not had the vaccine. Which includes babies who are too young to be inoculated, people who have immune system problems, or people who are too sick to get the vaccine like someone going through cancer treatment, as explained by Vaccines Today. In August, there were 107 measles cases confirmed in 21 states, according to CNN, which seems concerning considering vaccines are a thing and people shouldn't have to experience the measles anymore.
But how does one convince an anti-vaxxer of the upside to vaccinating their kids? Elise Kumar from Sydney, Australia might have just hit the nail on the (very blunt) head. As Kumar wrote on Twitter on Saturday, "People say 'well what did people do before vaccines/antibiotics/pasteurisation?' as if that’s an argument for going natural." She added:
They died, Carol. A lot of people died.
I mean... yes, Carol. This is correct. A whole lot of people died.
Kumar's tweet clearly struck a chord with people who feel the same level of frustration with anti-vaxxers. More than 836,000 people have liked her tweet, and it's been retweeted 232,000 times. People have been commenting with statistics about the deaths vaccines are preventing.
Still others noted the difference vaccines would have made in their own lives or the lives of people in their families.
Research scientist Dr. Jeremy Teuton noted that "mothers in developing nations walk for miles in hundred plus degree weather" to get their kids vaccinated because "they have living memory of the diseases destroying lives."
Here's the reality: people used to die because there wasn't a vaccine and now they don't have to do that anymore. And when I say people, I actually mean children. I know people get terribly attached to their theories and their ideas and I also know it really sucks when you're wrong. But at the end of the day, maybe consider all that has changed because of vaccines. The illnesses that don't have to be borne and the deaths that have been prevented.
Because "people died, Carol. A lot of people died."