Updated: Jun 18, 2021
Author: Belinda Lin
Editors: Shannon Tan and Cynthia Zhang
Artist: Christie Peng
Did you know the World Health Organization listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the top global threats in 2019? In 2019, on World Veterinary Day, the World Veterinary Association proposed the day to inform people about the “value of vaccination.”
What exactly is vaccine hesitancy? Vaccine hesitancy is the hesitation in accepting vaccinations against diseases, regardless of having access to several vaccination resources. You may think, why in the world would owners not allow their pets to get vaccines? Well, the answer is that people hold different opinions about it. We once thought it was a way to prevent diseases, but there are also many disadvantages. Read on to learn more!
We are now going to be talking about one of the less controversial vaccines in dogs: Distemper vaccinations. Distemper vaccines are one of the main reasons for vaccine hesitancy among dogs. Distemper is a highly contagious and lethal, yet a rare disease among dogs. Through the years, people have learned that the vaccine for Distemper, like many other vaccines, stimulates the condition it prevents. That’s it? No, the Distemper vaccine is also directly related to common chronic diseases, joint disease, and arthritis. Those vaccines can also cause Parvo, induced autoimmune diseases, postvaccinal Encephalitis, persistent skin allergies, and long term forms of Distemper Hence. Each year the number of vaccinations on pets decreases. But why does this occur?
Vaccines weaken the immune system for the first few days, leading to an increased risk of developing diseases. But what exact parts of the immune system does it affect? Dogs have two classes of the immune system: cellular immunity and humoral immunity. These immunities are under the control of the Thymus Helper (TH) Lymphocytes. Early on, the TH lymphocytes are split into TH1s, which control cellular immunity, or TH2s, which control the humoral immunity. How do they know which lymphocytes go in which group? Well, this is controlled by the cytokines, which are chemical messengers. Interleukin 12 and Interferon-gamma are two cytokines that control cellular immunity, while interleukins 4,5,6,10 control humoral immunity. Then, the two subsets try to dominate each other, resulting in a dysfunctional immune system.
Going down to the basics, humoral immunity is fast to generate antibodies to protect the body from viral diseases, whereas cellular immunity engulfs permanently destroys microorganisms and cellular debris. So, cellular immunity is supposed to be dominant in the immune system. However, in the case when vaccines are injected, they stimulate humoral immunity, but not cellular immunity. This means that when dogs get these vaccines, it turns the immune system inside out. If there are more risks than benefits, then maybe rethinking the decision of vaccinations is the way to go.
While some may think differently, what is your opinion on this? Are vaccinations worth it? Nonetheless, this does not mean humans should not get vaccinated.
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“Vaccine Hesitancy.” American Veterinary Medical Association, www.avma.org/javma-