Do the Benefits of Vaccines Outweigh the Risks?
Vaccinations have proven to be an effective means of preventing serious effects, including fatalities from childhood illnesses, however, controversy remains over whether the risk of side effects from the vaccines outweighs the risk of contracting the disease. Having a child usually means there will be a trip to the pediatrician for vaccines. There is much speculation on whether or not childhood vaccines cause mental disorders such as autism. This causes a lot of confusion and mixed messages. It is the parent's responsibility to familiarize themselves with as much information as possible. They should know why vaccines are important and what they prevent. They should also know the potential risks they are taking if they decide on not vaccinating their child.
Parents want to do everything possible to protect their children from preventable diseases and keep them healthy. Vaccination is the best way to do that. Vaccines protect children and adults of all ages from diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough. These diseases are just to name a few and are still a threat all over the world. They continue to infect U.S. children, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths every year. The recent measles outbreak in 2015 at Disneyland in California, sparked many concerns and is an example of what can happen when people choose not to vaccinate. The measles outbreak at Disney spread quickly in part because of low vaccination rates in a densely and highly populated area. A new comprehensive study of vaccine-preventable diseases (measles and whooping cough) in the United States finds that adults who are reluctant to vaccinate themselves and their kids, are to blame for the resurgence in the diseases. In the article Communicating vaccine safety to parents, an employee of Disneyland stated, "The recent measles outbreak should tell parents who are against vaccines that there is a need for vaccinations".
While there are many diseases, such as polio and diphtheria, that are very rare in the United States, they do still exist in other countries. The disease can be carried back to the United States by international travelers and if we stopped vaccinating against that disease, it could create an epidemic. In 1974, Japan had a successful pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine program. Children were given the vaccine and the disease became less common. People also began to speculate that the vaccine itself wasn't safe so they started to think there wasn't any use for it anymore so they stopped getting it. By 1976, only 10% of the children in Japan were being vaccinated. In 1979 there was a major pertussis epidemic in Japan. There were more than 13,000 cases of pertussis and 42 deaths. In 1981, the government began to vaccinate against pertussis again and the incidences dropped. If the vaccines were stopped, even against diseases that are very rare in the U.S. anymore, incidence and major epidemics could still happen and those diseases will make a come- back. It would only be a matter of time.
Vaccinations not only protect oneself from diseases, they also protect family, friends, and other people. If children aren't vaccinated, they can spread disease to other children who are too young to be vaccinated, or to people with weakened immune systems such as people with cancer or transplant recipients. Not everyone is a candidate for vaccines. Some children are too young for them and some are immunocompromised so they can't receive them. Herd immunity dictates that if most people are immune to a disease, then it will be unlikely that anyone will get sick and infect anyone in the herd, including those that are unprotected. Many people who don't vaccinate their children or themselves don't consider themselves as part of the herd, but in fact they really are. They are simply an unprotected member of the herd who rely on other people for protection. Infants who are too young to be vaccinated can be exposed to the disease at the doctor or hospital where the person with the disease is being treated. A CDC report of the death of a vaccinated child with leukemia is a heart breaking illustration of how kids with immune system problems can be at high risk from vaccine-preventable diseases. The four- year- old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, developed a fever 22 days after being exposed to chicken pox and just after starting another round of chemotherapy, which causes profound immunosuppression. She was hospitalized and died of multi-organ failure a few days later. The Medical Advisory Committee of the Immune Deficiency Foundation also warns that "the increased risk of disease in the pediatric population, in part because of increasing rates of vaccine refusal and in some circumstances more rapid loss of immunity, increases potential exposure of immune-deficient children." If parents believe their child is healthy enough to fight off vaccine preventable diseases, then they should be able to fight off the dead or weakened pathogens present in any of the vaccines. Some people don't have that choice, they can't be vaccinated so it should be the parents of the healthy children protecting the sick ones.
Currently, the United States has the most effective and safest vaccine supply in history. There is a vaccine safety system that ensures they are as safe as possible. There are several clinical trials performed before vaccines are available and then they need to be approved by the FDA. They are continuously monitored and tested even after they are licensed. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all strongly support protecting children with recommended vaccinations. Federal law requires that Vaccine Information Statements explaining vaccine benefits and risks be provided when certain vaccinations are administered so that parents are informed and educated.
Vaccines have been very helpful to our health. Now, vaccines cause fewer side effects as compared from the past because there are already a lot of researches and studies on how to lessen side effects of immunizations. Any vaccine may cause a reaction and the reactions may also vary depending on the type of vaccine. Some of these reactions are fainting, allergy, sore arm, nausea, and fever. A fever is the bodies reaction to the vaccine that not everyone gets. The vaccine gives a weakened version of the disease so according to immunologists, a fever is the bodies way of attacking the virus. When a fever gets too high, it can cause febrile seizures, but they are extremely rare. All of these reactions mean that the immunization is working in the body. The body needs to build up immunity against the disease. On the other hand, many vaccine-preventable disease symptoms can be serious, or even deadly. Even though many of these diseases are rare in this country, they still occur around the world and can be brought into the United States, putting unvaccinated children at risk.
One of the more serious accusations against vaccinations is the concern that they may be a cause of autism in children. While many major medical groups say that vaccines do not play a role in autism, there are many parents that may disagree. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Institute of Medicine all agree that there's probably no relationship between autism and vaccines. Parents are overwhelmed with so much information that can take a life of its own online. The concepts around scientific testing are difficult to understand, making it tough to separate good science from bad. Until scientists can prove exactly what causes autism, it's difficult to definitively disprove anything. When there is an absence of information and even one person speculates that vaccines cause autism, there will definitely be some commotion and concern. Some believe that the chemical thimerosal, which contains mercury, found in vaccines, is what is causing autism. Most autism symptoms become apparent around the same time that children are getting their vaccines so researchers believe that it is just coincidence. The 2004, there were five large-scale studies that compared autism rates in vaccinated and unvaccinated children. These and other recent studies, including one published in TheNew England Journal of Medicine in September 2007, have shown that children who received vaccines with thimerosal are not more likely to have been diagnosed with autism than with children who were not vaccinated. In a statement posted to Autism Speaks' website, the nonprofit's chief science officer proclaimed that evidence is on the side of vaccinations. "Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism," Rob Ring said. "The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated." There is no evidence linked to vaccines causing autism. In this case, most major medical groups will agree that the risk of not getting vaccinated outweigh the risks of any side effect vaccines may cause.
At an interview conducted with Megan Brooks, a 29-year-old mother of three, she explains that she was never given vaccines as a child. As a matter of fact, her mother was a health fanatic. They ate everything raw and organic, she was breastfed until she was two. She wasn't allowed to have sugar, MSG, aspartame, or drink from plastic water bottles and cups. When she got sick, her mother used homeopathic remedies and loaded her up on vitamins and cod liver oil. She had an active lifestyle and she kept very busy with sports and dance. As healthy as she was eating and being cared for, she contracted mumps, measles, rubella, viral meningitis, scarlet fever, whooping cough, and chicken pox and yearly tonsillitis. Some of these things had a vaccine to prevent them available at the time. In her late twenties, she got the news that she had pre-cancerous HPV. She spent many nights up awake wondering how she was going to tell 3 kids under the age of eight that their mother had cancer. Luckily, she had it safely removed. Megan stated, "How could someone who was so sterilized with healthy food and clean surroundings be so sick all the time?" She went on to explain that she always admired her mother and how healthy she tried to keep us, but it wasn't enough to keep her from getting so sick. This is why she chose to vaccinate her three children she has. "My three vaccinated children hardly ever get sick and have maybe needed antibiotics twice in their life, unlike me who constantly was on antibiotics that I developed a resistance to them and was eventually hospitalized because my body couldn't fight off infections," Megan stated. She finds it difficult to believe the claim that vaccine injuries are rampant and the complications from childhood illnesses are very rare. In fact, she knows more people with complications from childhood diseases than she does people who have had side effects from vaccines. Her husband almost died of meningitis, her friend is deaf from measles, and her cousin is partially blind from contracting rubella while in the womb. "Anecdotal evidence is nothing to base your decisions on," Megan said. It's her personal experience that has made her mind up to protect her children by vaccinating. Megan believes that knowingly exposing your child to diseases that could in fact kill someone, is "Cruel and selfish. Even with no complications the diseases are terrible to go through. The pain, the inability to breath, the discomfort that comes with high fevers and rashes, it's not fun and it's nothing I want for my children," she said. The time will come when the people who don't believe in vaccines will have to pay a price. The herd immunity will quit working because too many people will not vaccinate.
Scientists and researchers have come up with vaccines for many serious diseases. They help the body build immunity to the disease and there are also vaccines available that will save your life even after you have been exposed to the disease, such as rabies. The only thing that will save someone's life after being bit by an animal with rabies, is the rabies vaccine. That is, if the person gets it in time. There is no fighting off rabies all on one's own. A person has to have the vaccine. Are anti-vaccine people opposed to a vaccine that is the only way to save one's life too?
Although people who are anti-vaccine have their own personal reasons for not vaccinating, it seems as though a lot of the reasons being is because of fear. People are uneducated and misinformed and will quickly jump to conclusions when someone says that vaccines will hurt you. Preconceived ideas our put into most people's heads from anti-vaccine people. There are side effects from vaccines, they will cause autism people say, they are pumped full of chemicals that will cause problems later on. The truth is, there are side effects from vaccines. There are mild ones and there are very rare ones that can happen much like with anything. Opponents ignore the fact that infection always has as much greater risk of causing harm than the immunization. The world has immunizations for a very important reason. Because diseases have caused global disasters and are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide. The benefits of vaccines definitely outweigh the risks they may have. We have eliminated most of the terrifying diseases our grandparents witnessed on a daily basis. Diphtheria, pertussis, polio, rubella and mumps are all gone because of immunizations. These diseases will stay gone as long as we continue to immunize. For society to improve its health, we rely on vaccinations. The benefits are substantial, especially when everyone is on the same page. Potential side effects have routinely been disproven and parents should feel more than comfortable vaccinating their children. Opponents argue that doctors are evil, scientists are trying to kill your kids with chemicals, and vaccine company's just want money. This is not the case. Vaccines save lives, millions of lives. Since the mid-20th century, vaccines have eliminated major infectious scourges and have reduced the mortality rate. Opponents should really think about the risks taken when they choose not to vaccinate.
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This Calderwood, S. B. (2015, May). Communicating vaccine safety to parents. Clinical Advisor, 18(5), 102. Retrieved from ezp1r.riosalado.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezp1r.riosalado.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA414135448&v=2.1&u=mccweb_riosalado&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&asid=aa0f6821dd4 Null, G., & Feldman, M. (2003, October). Vaccination: an analysis of the health risks--Part I. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, (243), 90+. Retrieved from ezp1r.riosalado.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezp1r.riosalado.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA109946534&v=2.1&u=mccweb_riosalado&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&asid=86b647f41c635560b0187211be749c06281fdd10220f77a3072a2
"Vaccine Safety." Vaccine Basics-Web. 23 Mar. 2016
Brooks, Megan. Personal Interview. 10, Mar. 2016