As a city grows more dense with people, it only follows that diseases and viruses become a more prevalent issue. According to Barney Cohen from the National Research Council’s Committee on Population, people are moving away from rural environments and flocking to cities like Chicago, and by 2017 the prediction is that the majority of the developing world will be living in urban environments. In order to keep the spread of diseases and viruses at bay, one resource that can make a huge difference is vaccines.
Growing up, I remember every time I got a physical and my doctor would be recommending that I get this or that vaccine, my mother was always skeptical and didn’t want me to get the shot. People are scared of injecting a form of a virus into their children, but most doubts about shots are based on myths and not research. For example, some anti-vaxxers will claim that there are harmful levels of aluminum in vaccines, but this is simply not true. Children get more aluminum from their mothers’ breast-milk than they do in a vaccine. Influenza, or the flu virus, is often perceived as very mild, but in the United States, between 3,000 and 49,000 people die each year from it and these cases could be prevented by a simple vaccine. In Chicago alone, 350 infections that could have easily been prevented by vaccines are reported annually. Education about vaccines is one of the easiest ways to get more people to take them. If people look at the scientific facts, the myths can be dispelled and these preventable infections will decrease.
When people don’t get vaccinated, it not only puts them at a higher risk of becoming infected, but also puts everyone around them at risk who may not have access to vaccines, come from a different country, or have some immune deficiency that makes them more susceptible. Everyone knows that Chicago is a hub of diversity and immigrants, and the Chicago Department of Public Health states that the tuberculosis rate between foreign-born people was 5 times the rate of US-born people in 2010. Luckily, there are steps being taken to reduce the spread of infections and make vaccines more available to everyone. In places with under-privileged healthcare it is important to make vaccines more available that they are now. To do this, more vaccines should be covered under Medicare, so that people who would otherwise opt out of the vaccine because of price can now receive it. The CDPH already is working on goals to make vaccines more available, planning to distribute about 50,000 influenza vaccines to underprivileged neighborhoods in Chicago.
Through education and widespread availability, we can continue to beat the spread of these diseases as a community.
Cohen, Barney. “Urbanization in Developing Countries: Current Trends, Future Projections, and Key Challenges for Sustainability.” Technology in Society 28.1-2 (2006): 63-80. 2006. Web. 19 Feb. 2016. <https://us130urbansustainability.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/urbanization-in-developing-countries-current-trends-future-projections-and-key-challenges-for-sustainability_cohen.pdf>.
Health, Chicago Department Of Public. “Public Health Agenda.” HEALTHY CHICAGO (n.d.): n. pag. City of Chicago. 2011. Web. 19 Feb. 2016. <http://www.cityofchicago.org/dam/city/depts/cdph/CDPH/PublicHlthAgenda2011.pdf>.
Raff, Jennifer. “Dear Parents, You Are Being Lied To.” Web log post. Violent Metaphors. WordPress, 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2016. <http://violentmetaphors.com/2014/03/25/parents-you-are-being-lied-to/>.