Implications of opting out of vaccination

Implications of opting out of vaccination

Immunization can be an important part of health, especially in our globalizing world, where one is exposed to many risks in the form of infections. Records for these risks are maintained by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and according to them vaccinations can help protect one from many of these diseases. Delaying or not choosing to vaccinate or be vaccinated could have some health and social implications.

Here are the most common ones:

Pregnancy complications
Unvaccinated pregnant women may be at a higher risk of contracting infections or diseases and passing them on to their child. For instance, a woman who contracts rubella during the first trimester of pregnancy is at risk of transmitting congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) to her baby. CRS can cause heart defects, developmental delays, and even deafness.

Potential risk to others
Those who choose not to get vaccinated or not vaccinate their children against vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) also pose a health risk to others, especially those with compromised immune systems from cancer or auto-immune diseases.

Social isolation
Skipping vaccinations, especially for children, can also result in social exclusion. If an unvaccinated child is sick or dealing with a disease, they may need to be isolated from others and sometimes even the family. A disease or infection outbreak in the community may also require one to keep their unvaccinated child at home, further isolating or excluding them from social engagements and activities.

Risk to life
Skipping or delaying vaccinations could have lifelong consequences. Those who are unvaccinated may require treatment that is more expensive or different when ill. There is also always the risk of healthcare professionals being unfamiliar with the care needed, posing a further health risk to those in need of medical attention. For children who haven’t been vaccinated, even basic infections such as the flu can be a risk.

Increased risk of old diseases
Although vaccines may not be 100 percent effective, vaccination can help build herd immunity against common infections. Reduced vaccination rates could lead to a potential increase in the cases of old infections, the risk of which has already been lowered or eliminated. The most common example of this is measles. According to a WHO report, there has been a 556% increase in reported cases of this disease since 2016 due to a drop in vaccinations.

While one is not guaranteed immunity from diseases with vaccinations, they can help protect herd immunity and reduce the risk of infections among most people.

One should always consult a healthcare professional about the details of vaccinations to make an informed decision.