100°F
weather icon Clear

Vaccine much more than medical tool

By definition, a vaccine is “a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization says they are a simple, safe and effective way to protect people from harmful diseases.

Vaccines have a long and storied history. A timeline on historyofvaccines.org shows they were first used around 1000 by the Chinese to battle smallpox. In 1796, Edward Jenner began using cowpox material to create an immunity to smallpox and, its evolution over the course of the next 200 years, resulted in its eradication.

In 1885, Louis Pasteur’s rabies vaccine made an impact and helped foster the development of vaccines against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, cholera, typhoid and tuberculosis. More research and development followed in the middle of the 20th century resulting in vaccines for polio and common childhood diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella.

The vaccines and immunizations proved to be so effective that many school districts, including Clark County School District, require proof that they have been received before a child can be enrolled.

While there have been those opposed to vaccines since they were first introduced, for the most part they were viewed as a good thing. But now you can barely whisper the word vaccine without creating heated arguments both for and against them.

Plenty of those opinions have been shared on this very page, sparking criticism for spreading misinformation regardless of which position was being taken.

It’s no wonder that Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is vaccine.

In its selection of the word, Merriam-Webster wrote, “In everyday use, words are useful tools that communicate assertions, ideas, aspirations, and uncertainties. But they can also become vehicles for ideological conflict.

This is what happened to vaccine in 2021. The promising medical solution to the pandemic that upended our lives in 2020 also became a political argument and source of division. The biggest science story of our time quickly became the biggest debate in our country, and the word at the center of both stories is vaccine.”

There is little doubt that people’s arguments are based on their firmly held beliefs and little can be done to sway them from those thoughts and opinions. Not scientific evidence. Not newspaper or magazine articles. Not political policies. Not conspiracy theories. And definitely not shame or name calling.

Whether you believe in the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine or not, interest in the word itself has been intense. From 2020 to 2021, Merriam-Webster reported a 601 percent increase in the number of times it has been looked up. And if you compare that to 2019 before the pandemic exploded worldwide, the number of lookups of the word vaccine increased 1,048 percent.

This interest, along with the fact that the vaccine for COVID works differently than previous vaccines, encouraged Merriam-Webster to change and expand its definition.

“The use of a vaccine that triggers an immune response in an entirely new way required that Merriam-Webster revise and expand its entry for the word, which the company did in May,” they wrote.

Their selection was based on the fact that the word vaccine was about so much more than medicine in 2021. For some it symbolized hope. For some it symbolized the government’s attempt to take away freedoms. For others it represented health care inequality.

It’s rare that one word can express so much. It’s no wonder that it is on the top of people’s minds, at the tips of their tongues and has become the word of the year.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Inflation fueled by rising oil costs

What do the rising price of meat products, dairy products, vegetables, cereal and nearly everything in the hardware store, including lumber, have in common? Oil. A barrel of oil is refined into diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and aviation gas. It is utilized in manufacturing plastics, synthetic materials, asphalt, lubricants, roofing, trash bags and the list goes on. Therefore, when the cost of a barrel of oil increases, the cost of goods increases through the manufacturing or the delivery of these products.

Pipeline might save drought-ridden West

I was first introduced to Lake Mead in the summer of 1968 when my father took a job in Henderson, moving us from Long Beach, California. His boss took us to the boat ramp of the Las Vegas Wash, about 10 miles from Henderson. I spent my freshman and sophomore years at Basic High School, which is now Burkholder Middle School.

Call issued for common-sense gun laws

I had a very different column planned for this month, something light, about summer activities. Then on the day of this writing, May 24, 2022, a young man in Uvalde, Texas, took the lives of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. My other piece went completely out the window because I knew I needed to write about this. I am the mother of two young children, and I am terrified.

River compact needs re-evaluation

We live in Boulder City, the city that built Hoover Dam. The Boulder Canyon Project Act was the legislation creating Boulder City as well as Boulder Dam. It is located in Black Canyon adjacent to Boulder City, Nevada. The dam is now called Hoover Dam. Life is like that, isn’t it? We have our desires along with reality, don’t we?

Waste not, want not

In July 2017, Boulder City received some really great news that I wanted to share. The Southern Nevada Health District had just approved our latest landfill expansion, the second one that I helped to obtain while serving on SNHD’s board.

It’s voting time

Nevada’s 2022 primary election day is just more than two weeks away, but voting has begun. Early voting started Saturday, and mail ballots were sent May 25 to every Nevada active registered voter.

Cheers to Johnny

My bio references “another lifetime” and being a working comedian. Today I feel moved to share with you the inspiration behind working stand-up and an important anniversary just passed.

Goodbye never easy to say

Goodbyes are hard.

Come fly with me

Boulder City is rich with amenities; one of many is our public airport. Boulder City Municipal Airport dates back to the 1930s, when it was known as Bullock Airport or Bullock Field, with three runways located inside our township. (The old hangar is still standing at the airport’s former location).