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Voided vaccines

By James Li Dec. 14, 2023

As COVID-19 swept through the United States, it shut down businesses and sent individuals into lockdowns, leading to many wondering when things would change. However, through hard work and hours of dedication, life was brought back to normal in part by the fruitful efforts of researchers who created vaccines to combat the deadly virus. Yet these vaccines were met with an outburst of skepticism and denial regarding their validity. This trend has continued out of the pandemic, with many schools across the nation reporting that vaccination rates among school children have fallen lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Daniel Choi Art

School districts typically require several vaccinations for elementary schoolers before beginning their year, which include the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis vaccines (DTaP).

Families may apply for vaccine exemptions for religious or medical reasons. Medical reasons for vaccine exemptions could be that the individual is allergic to the vaccine components or that the vaccination could be harmful to the individual’s health due to other circumstances. To get an exemption, the parents must get a signed statement from a medical doctor stating that they do not recommend immunization for their patient. For non-medical vaccination exemptions, parents need only submit a request.

“The government should have the ability to veto vaccine exemptions, as vaccination is an integral part of keeping communities safe, and insufficient vaccination can lead to outbreaks of many diseases,” Junior Ryan Jin said.

The decline in vaccination rates across the country could be due to the stigma and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 vaccines. Conspiracies spanned from relatively benign ones about reducing the effectiveness of an individual’s immune system to more drastic ones stating that vaccines implanted devices meant to control the minds of their recipients. These stigmas regarding the dangers of the vaccine were readily spread across the internet, leading to these beliefs spreading from just the COVID-19 vaccines to all vaccines as a whole. Another reason could be that the constant dialogue on vaccines could lead to vaccine hesitancy. By undermining the credibility of vaccines, these groups were able to undermine the credibility of the government which supported vaccines.

“The government can overcome vaccine hesitancy by encouraging vaccination, whether through advertisement campaigns or engaging with under-vaccinated communities to bolster vaccination rates,” Senior Elaine Ju said.

The CDC states that when the number of vaccine exemptions within a community exceeds 5%, it can lead to an increased risk of outbreaks within that community. Vaccines help protect the community through the concept of “community immunity,” wherein the disease has a lower chance of spreading even if one person gets infected because all other individuals are well protected from the disease due to the vaccine. Vaccines require 95% vaccination rates to provide adequate immunity levels for the communities they are for. However, with vaccine rates dropping below this 95%, and closer to 93%, outbreaks are beginning to be more common. In 2022, there was an outbreak of measles, with a majority of the 85 students infected being unvaccinated. Idaho also experienced a measles outbreak, which disproportionately affected the unvaccinated population.

Cases like these exemplify the need for a greater push for vaccination in the American population, and the necessity of combating vaccine hesitancy in communities. As vaccination rates continue to drop, the threat of a dangerous viral resurgence looms.


About the Contributors

James Li

staff writer

James Li is a senior at Leland High School and is a Staff Writer for the Charger Account. When not working, he enjoys bowling, running, and playing video games.

Daniel Choi


Daniel Choi is a junior at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys watching shows, taking walks, and sleeping.

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