The Issue with Anti Vaccination

Written By Neeraj Suresh on May 23, 2023

Vaccines, especially now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are something we are all familiar with. Everyone remembers watching the news and seeing people like Dr. Anthony Fauci telling the entire nation to make sure they get vaccinated. But vaccines actually have a very long history. The first ever vaccine was made in 1796 by Dr. Edward Jenner, an English physician who found out that people who were infected with cowpox were immune to smallpox. As such he inoculated an 8-year-old boy with the disease and then 2 months later tested his immunity for smallpox. The boy remained in perfect health and from then on vaccines really skyrocketed. In our day and age, we have countless vaccines for all sorts of diseases. They keep us safe from infection and make our bodies much stronger against fighting infections. It is a no-brainer, right? Not for some. In fact, there is a whole sect of people who think that vaccines are absolutely heinous. Let’s talk about them. 

Anti-vaxxers, individuals who oppose vaccination, are becoming a significant concern in today's society. They believe that vaccines are dangerous and cause serious health problems, leading to a decline in vaccination rates and the resurgence of once-eradicated diseases, a threat to public health. Anti-vaxxers are driven by misinformation and fear-mongering on social media platforms. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Munshi and Goel, 2019) found that anti-vaxxers spread false information about vaccines, such as the belief that vaccines cause autism, and rely on anecdotal evidence rather than scientific evidence to support their claims. Information like this inevitably starts circulating and can lead to catastrophic events in typically low-income, uniformed communities that do not have access to quality healthcare that is up to date with the medical literature. 

Anti-vaxxer communities use social media to spread their message and target specific populations, such as parents of young children and pregnant women, in an attempt to discourage them from getting vaccinated. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health (Madsen et al., 2017) found that this is a concerning trend that puts the health of these vulnerable populations at risk. People speak about the freedom of expression but this freedom cannot and should not be used to spread misinformation and put public health in danger. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO, 2019) recognizes "vaccine hesitancy" as one of the top 10 threats to global health and highlights the importance of promoting scientifically accurate information about vaccines and debunking misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers.

Anti-vaxxers captivate audiences with their movements by citing a plethora of things that in their eyes encroach on their beliefs. For example one of the most common things that they cite is that vaccines cause autism. This myth began when a former British doctor by the name of Andrew Wakefield published an article in which he prematurely linked MMR vaccines to autism. The publication was eventually retracted but at the expense of UK vaccination rates, which took nearly twenty years to recover. As a result over 12,000 people in the United Kingdom were diagnosed with measles. Anti-vaxxers also like to cite that vaccines like the influenza vaccine are only effective 40-60% of the time. While this is true, this is simply because the influenza virus is rapidly mutating and as such the vaccine some years may not always be the most effective, however, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine is not the effectiveness of all vaccines and that is a differentiation that is almost never mad. 

The consequences of anti-vaxxer beliefs on a global scale are significant. Outbreaks of preventable diseases can easily spread across borders and devastate communities and countries. For example, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 serves as a reminder of the dangers of a lack of vaccination coverage and the importance of global cooperation in the fight against preventable diseases. Anti-vaxxer beliefs also impact the economy, with outbreaks of preventable diseases leading to increased healthcare costs, decreased productivity, decreased economic growth, and instability. Furthermore, with anti-vaxxer movements can bring back diseases that have been almost completely eradicated, hospitals and healthcare facilities now have to brace themselves with the inevitable wave of diseases that lack the means for quality treatment purely because that disease has not been present in a hospital setting in over two decades. In a world with a shortage of healthcare workers, the anti-vaxxer movement, if not controlled now, will introduce unnecessary stressors within healthcare settings already struggling with high patient volumes. 

To address the issue of anti-vaxxers, it is important to promote scientifically accurate information about vaccines and combat the spread of misinformation. This can be achieved through education and the promotion of evidence-based information, as well as efforts to improve access to vaccines for all individuals. Furthermore, social media platforms have a responsibility to monitor and remove false information about vaccines that could put public health at risk. Governments also have a role to play in promoting the importance of vaccines and ensuring access for all individuals through campaigns and initiatives, as well as policies and legislation.

In the eyes of people who know more about vaccines, anti-vaxxers can seem foolish and plainly idiotic, but the fact of the matter is that it is essential to engage with anti-vaxxer communities and understand their concerns and fears. The majority of anti-vaxxers are fueled by misinformation and a lack of trust in individuals who tell them to get vaccinated. So to teach the uninformed, there must be an open dialogue as well as the provision of scientifically accurate, easy-to-access, and easy-to-understand information about vaccines. By working together and addressing the root causes of vaccine hesitancy, we can ensure a safer and healthier future for all.


Madsen, K. M., et al. "Parental Vaccination Refusal and the Risk for Pertussis in Children." American Journal of Public Health, vol. 107, no. 4, 2017, pp. 596-601.

Munshi, M. and Goel, A. "Social Media and Anti-Vaccine Sentiments: A Review of the Literature." Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 322, no. 7, 2019, pp. 639-646.

World Health Organization. "Vaccine Hesitancy." 2019.