“Have you gotten your shots?” is a question that current generations have heard all through their lives. Whether as a way of delivering a medication into the body to fight a disease or as a way of inoculating a patient against a potential disease, use of the needle has been around for quite a while.
We first hear about a needle being used as far back as the tenth century, when an Egyptian doctor named Ammar ibn Ali al-Mawsili used a hollow tube to draw cataracts from the eyes of his patients. He utilized suction and a very thin glass tube in a manner that withdrew matter from a body, instead of adding matter to it. It isn’t until the 1800’s that we read about Dr. Alexander Wood using needles to fight against cholera.
Later in that same century, Dr. William Halstead began using a needle to deliver pain-killing solutions directly into dentistry patients, taking a huge step forward in the application of needles as a method to introduce a way to deaden nerves by direct injection. The method was so successful that it became a standard means of practice for both medical and dental physicians that continues today.
Along the way there have been obstacles, as would be expected. Some individuals suffer from a genuine fear of needles that makes getting shots very difficult for them. Trypanophobia is the medical term for this phobia, which is relatively rare. However there is another form of resistance to receiving shots and that is rooted in the suspicion that vaccinations are likely to do more harm than good. There are individuals who believe that inoculations can be detrimental for a number of reasons. Some contend that the entire concept of warding off a disease by injecting a formulation designed to help make a patient’s immune system stronger in a specific area is actually a risky form of homeopathic practice. Further, there are some individuals who take their beliefs so far as to believe that such vaccinations are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to government intrusion into their lives. People who subscribe to this belief are sometimes responding to the specific fear that an inoculation will cause a seemingly unexpected and unforeseen side effect. This is largely based on an erroneous report from some years ago that concluded that there was a link between vaccinations and the development of autism in children. The 1998 report has since been discredited but the way it affected individuals continues to this day.
Because of the refusal of some parents to allow their children to be inoculated against disease, places like South Wales have experienced unfortunate increases in the number of children suffering for measles. Surveys taken as recently as 2010 reveal that over 10% of parents have considered or chosen to not allow their children to receive the MMR vaccine which combats measles, mumps and rubella.
The failure to allow essential shots such as the MMR vaccine puts children at potentially grave risk through no fault of the children involved. Rather, the very people who are charged with protecting these children are acting in a way which may cause them a great deal of suffering. Parents need to do research and to speak with their trusted physicians before making such a dangerous choice.