Vaccination Debates and Misinformation


Joaquin Holcomb, Writer

Most parents in the United States believe in vaccinating their children. They believe that vaccines are completely safe. However9 percent of all Americans do not believe vaccinations are safe. 

While 9 percent doesn’t seem like a lot of people, that’s equal to almost 30 million people. According to the Washington Post, the anti-vax population is composed primarily of young, less-educated adults and racial minorities. These parental decisions have led some infectious diseases, like measles, to make a comeback.

Between January 1 and July 25 over 1000 cases of the measles where reported across 30 states, the most cases sense the disease was considered eliminated in the year 2000. All 50 states require kids to have certain vaccinations in order to enroll in school. Recent legislative changes have prevented some un-vaccinated children from attending public school.  

Schools in Georgia require kids to be immunized against diseases such as diphtheria, polio, hepatitis, and measles. There are, however, medical and religious exemptions that can override these requirements.  An exemption form must be filled out and signed, with parents forewarned that if an epidemic does occur, their child[ren] must be vaccinated before being allowed back in school.

Recently, social media giants like FaceBook and Pinterest have come under fire for allowing members to disseminate misinformation. One such member, Amy Haney, leads a group who call themselves “pro consent.” Their role is to educate parents in Georgia who want to know more about vaccinations. The group, which has spread mostly by word of mouth, has reached almost 900 members.

Haney believes that “Parents should be fully informed to what they’re agreeing to do” when vaccinating their children. She founded the group in February of 2016 after a policy change required one of her children to turn in a shot record to enroll in school. She says that her group exists to provide parents with more information from reputable sources like the CDC and published research articles. By identifying the group pro-consent, she aims to educate parents on the risk and reward of childhood vaccines. Because her group is private and does not advertise, it has not been shut down by FaceBook.

Other groups and sites have been closed by social media giants. The crackdown on sites that spread misinformation is driven by the dangers and deaths that can occur from failure to vaccinate.  As more diseases that were once considered effectively eradicated continue to make comebacks, stricter laws, not just on corporations but on parents as well, may have to occur.