The Vaccine Debate

Vaccination is arguably one of the greatest health advancements. Vaccines are a form of preventative treatment administered to create immunity against specific diseases. Usually, children below the age of 6 undergo mandatory vaccinations. Some of the illnesses inoculated against include: measles, polio, tetanus, mumps, and rubella among others. However, not every parent is pro-vaccine. The debate whether it is right to vaccinate your child has been going on for decades.

The vaccine proponent view

Institutions and persons who support vaccination have their reasons based on many studies. According to the UNICEF and American Academy of Pediatricians, up to 2.5 million kids’ lives are saved due to vaccination every year. The rate of child mortality has decreased due eradication of diseases such as small pox by vaccines.

Vaccination is seen as a necessity by medical experts. Preventable diseases still exist and viruses can mutate in unvaccinated persons. Infections of polio and measles have been reported in Pakistan and even in the United States as recently as 2014. To prevent an outbreak of these preventable illnesses, vaccination is mandatory for children.

Research has proved that the ingredients used in vaccines are safe in the amounts administered to children. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) among other institutes have stated that vaccines are safe. For a vaccine to be approved, it undergoes rigorous placebo-controlled trials. Adverse reactions to substances in vaccines happen, but such cases are rather negligible. It is estimated that 1 in every 1 million children is severely allergic to a vaccine.

The vaccine opponent argument

Vaccines have faced stiff opposition since the 1940s. This resistance has intensified due to an increase in the number of vaccinations administered to children. Currently, the CDC states that children should get at least 14 vaccines before they are 6 years old.

One of the biggest fears parents have is about the side effects of vaccination. In 1998, it hit the headlines when it was suggested that vaccines were responsible for the rise in autism cases in children. It was said that the traces of mercury in a flu vaccine was responsible for autism. It has further been suggested by pro-vaccine experts that vaccines carry the risk of severe allergic reactions and seizures.

Secondly, mandatory vaccination is perceived to be unconstitutional. Opponents state that vaccination of children is against religious freedoms and the right to personal medical choice. In their view, parents should choose whether kids should be inoculated, not the government.

Finally, there are fears that vaccines manufactured by pharmaceutical companies are of huge commercial interest. Therefore, not enough testing is done before release of a vaccine for public consumption.

Who is right?

Failure to vaccinate children leaves them more susceptible to preventable illnesses. The risk of allergic reactions is minor as per the statistics. Recent studies have also debunked the idea that vaccines contribute to autism. In addition, compensation programs are available for people who are critical of vaccines.

The effects of certain illnesses are far much worse than the potential allergic reactions. Most of the illnesses that children are vaccinated against are fatal and cause impairments; for instance, mumps causes deafness. Also, vaccination saves money and time since prevention is better than cure.