FACULTY OF MEDICINE
SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO ANTI-VAXXERS FROM GAU FACULTY OF MEDICINE ACADEMICIAN ASST. PROF. TUNCAL
Medical Biochemist Asst. Prof. Akıle Tuncal from Girne American University (GAU) Faculty of Medicine made a statement called “Scientific Approach to Anti-Vaxxers” by referring to the discourses of “vaccines are ineffective” made by anti-vaccine opponents. In his statement, Tuncal said that such statements are false assessments conveyed by distorting scientific data.
Medical Biochemist Asst Prof. Akıle Tuncal said, “There is no doubt that vaccines are one of the most valuable inventions of human beings in the field of health. Vaccines reduce the burden of infectious diseases in society by creating immunity against infectious diseases due to their immune response effects. However, skepticism and misinformation about vaccines has been increasing since the first vaccine was produced. According to the 2013 scientific data of the Turkey Demographic and Health Survey, the number of children aged 13-26 months who were not vaccinated was around 20 thousand (1.6%) in 2008, while it increased to 37 thousand (2.9%) in 2013. Considering the change in the incidence of a disease over the years, it can be seen indisputably how effective the currently used vaccines are. An example of this is smallpox, which caused many casualties in the past but has now been wiped out from the world. In 1966, approximately 15 million smallpox patients and the number of people who died from this disease were reported to be approximately 1.5 million to 2 million per year. As a result of the vaccination campaign initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) against smallpox in 1966, 1596 cases were reported, and 270 deaths were seen in the last epidemic. Thus, smallpox has been declared eradicated since 1977 through smallpox vaccination studies. Since the disease agent was destroyed, smallpox vaccination applications were no longer needed, and vaccination was stopped in our country and all over the world in 1980. According to UNICEF's data, if there was no smallpox vaccine, approximately 5 million people in the world would have died from this disease until then. In addition, there is evidence in the literature that many important diseases such as diphtheria, pertussis, measles, tetanus, tuberculosis and polio can be prevented thanks to the vaccines developed.”
“Despite all these scientific data, a ‘war against science’ has recently started and an increasing number of anti-vaccine formations have emerged. Anti-vaccine is not a new concept that has emerged today. Anti-vaccination is an issue that directly affects both the individual and the society in which he lives in many countries. Social media, which is actively used today, contributes greatly to much misinformation about vaccines.”
“IT IS POSSIBLE TO GET RID OF PREVENTABLE DISEASES VIA VACCINES”
Tuncal said, “Of course, those who are vaccinated can also get an epidemic, but this does not show that the vaccines are ineffective. No vaccine is 100% effective because dead or weakened virus is put in the vaccine in order not to put the vaccinated person at risk, and for reasons related to the person's immune system. However, studies show that while a large percentage of vaccinated individuals are preserved, the remaining percentage may develop the disease despite vaccination. In this way, it is possible to reduce or even eliminate vaccine preventable diseases. In addition, it is seen that the symptoms, hospitalization and mortality (death) rates of individuals who become ill despite vaccination are quite low compared to those who do not have the vaccine. These data reveal that vaccines are significantly effective in preventing the epidemic.”
“A dangerous rhetoric expressed by anti-vaccine opponents is ‘Whether or not to get vaccinated is a personal decision.’ Although vaccination may seem like an individual decision at first glance, it is a situation that affects all people due to its effects on community immunity. In order to prevent any epidemic in the society, it is necessary to reach the threshold of herd immunity. One of the most important ethical principles in medicine is not to apply a treatment or medical intervention that will disrupt body integrity without the patient's informed consent. However, vaccines are not an attempt to disrupt the integrity of the body and they are outside of this rule. Vaccination is a method that protects not only the person himself, but also the whole society. Because the greater the number of vaccinated people in the community, the lower the risk of the disease causing an epidemic, and the people who are not vaccinated will be protected from the disease due to community immunity, thanks to the vaccinated people.”