Religion as a Threat to Vaccination Essay

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Since the debut of vaccines, global health has improved as diseases become less common and, in some cases, eradicated. “Herd immunity,” the overall immunity established when a significant proportion of a community is immune to a disease, can be reached through widespread vaccination. The result of herd immunity is an extreme reduction of disease prevalence (Fine, Eames, & Heymann, 2011). Current herd immunity saves forty-two thousand lives and fourteen billion dollars in the United States each year in direct medical costs alone (Buttenheim, Jones, & Baras, 2012). Reaching the threshold number of individuals needed in order to achieve herd immunity has generally been a nonissue for countries. However, smaller scale communities …show more content…
As people with similar beliefs tend to group together, clusters of unvaccinated individuals form (Buttenheim, Jones, & Baras, 2012). Ruijs et al. (2011) remark that, especially in rural areas, social norms can greatly affect personal decisions for or against vaccination. In Holland, Ruijs et al. (2011) determined that Orthodox Protestants influence surrounding community members to reject vaccinations, even in cases when the individuals are not Orthodox Protestants themselves. Parents who feel that vaccines are unacceptable are likely to live together and their children to attend the same schools, such that the exemption rate for the region would be higher than average (Buttenheim, Jones, & Baras, 2012). The higher the exemption rate, the more threatened a community’s herd immunity is. Imdad et al. (2013) and Buttenheim, Jones, and Baras (2012) demonstrate domestically, and Grabenstein (2013) and Ruijs et al. (2011) demonstrate internationally, that the higher the rates of unvaccinated individuals, the more prevalent vaccine-preventable diseases are. This is because when the percentage of vaccinated individuals within a community falls lower than the threshold for herd immunity against a particular disease, epidemics of that disease are likely to break out (Muhsen et al., 2012). Objections to vaccinations are not applicable to all

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