Should Parents Avoid Vaccinating Their Children?
Raising children comes with parents making several decisions. These decisions vary from education matters, entertainment, food, health procedures to many others. Some of the decisions remain essential to the proper upbringing of the child. One of the major aspects in children upbringing that calls for vital parents’ decision is health. Health matters cover the food consumed by the child at different stages of development and the medication necessary in times of illness. Under the medication of a child, parents face the major decision on vaccination. In the past, vaccinations were mandatory to all children (Freed, 2010). However, times have changed and parents started raising questions on the validity of these vaccinations. Contemporary parents have the options of whether or not to vaccinate their children. Parents strive to ensure their children remain healthy and protected from preventable diseases. Accordingly, the best approach to attain the above objective is through vaccination. However, there have been several calls and proposals that parents should avoid vaccinating their children. This paper explores various reasons as to why parents should not avoid vaccination. Avoiding vaccination only has adverse effects on the development of children and their future well-being. Understanding the objections to anti-vaccination calls, the paper will highlight the varied arguments for children vaccination.
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Background Information on Children Vaccination
The Vaccination Assistance Act was passed in the year 1962 improving the vaccination status countrywide. The act enabled provision of ongoing financial aid to state and local health departments. In 1977, Childhood Immunization Initiative set vaccination goals to help govern the practice (Diekema, 2012). The initiative sought to attain 90% immunization levels in the entire country. Some of the preventable diseases listed in the Act include measles, mumps, and whooping cough. These diseases continue to infect American children, which leads hospitalizations and deaths annually. However, 1980 saw the introduction of a new vaccination law, which required immunizations for learners joining schools. This improved the vaccine rates nationally (Ruijs et al., 2012). The effect of this laws and practices decreased the vaccine-preventable disease rate.
After the success of immunization, slowly emerged the fears from parents regarding the practice. Advancing in to the century, parents started refusing vaccination for their children. National Immunization Program reported increased vaccination refusal. Surveys indicated various reasons for the vaccine refusal, the major one being fear of vaccine safety. In addition, parents raised the perspective that immunization did not offer adequate benefits to balance the risks taken in the practice. The issue took center stage in 1980, after several allegations of DTP vaccine causing infant deaths and other permanent injury (Diekema, 2012). Such claims were followed by other uncorroborated allegations that immunizations caused autism, ADD, and other cognitive deficits affecting children. However, the immunity process is a simple procedure with adverse outcomes. A child gets sick when invaded by germs. For instance, invasion of the body by whooping cough bacteria will result in the child having whooping cough disease. It is the function of the immune system to protect the child from such germs. Upon entry into the body, germs start the reproduction process. At this point, the immune system notices the external invasion. It responds through generation of proteins known as antibodies (Freed, 2010). Antibodies majorly strive to destroy the germs that make the child sick, and eliminate the attacking germs. These processes, unfortunately, take place after one has fallen sick. Vaccines, on the other hand, help give immunity to a disease before making one sick. Vaccines come from the same germs, which cause the disease but are weak or dead. The body will react to these injected bacteria or viruses in the same way as when before protection.
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Children vaccination is an old practice among parents
The major purpose for vaccinating children is to protect them against diseases and keep them healthy. However, modern times have seen parents dispute this practice, with the claim that vaccines overload the children’s immune system. Accordingly, the rejection of this practice has had adverse effects on children’s health and development. For instance, recent statistics indicate that parental negation of immunization for children has led to development of immunization-preventable illness on a global scale. One of the reported cases on vaccination includes spread of measles. In the case of vaccination against measles, countrywide tendencies of injection refusal have augmented the figure of measles cases. Since 1996, America reports high cases of measles attacks amongst children. Medical practitioners report that over 50% of the reported measles cases happen with children who were not vaccinated (Ruijs et al., 2012). Deaths related to measles, a vaccine preventable disease, were most commonly caused by measles-associated pneumonia. Such deaths occurred out of over 55,000 cases of measles in America since the onset of vaccine refusal. On the other hand, outbreak investigations done over the last four years expose increased numbers of causes related to deliberate refusal of immunization by parents (Brown et al., 2010). More reports note that unvaccinated children pose a risk to others and themselves. The issue of inadequate vaccination is not an entirely new challenge in the medical field. For these reasons, it is advisable for parents to vaccinate their children. Some popular vaccines, which are under development and aim to protect children in future, include vaccines against AIDS, Malaria, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis and several other serious infectious diseases (Diekema, 2012). In the subsequent section, the numerous benefits of children vaccination are discussed. These will strongly support the ideology of children vaccination.
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Benefits of Children Vaccination
One of the major benefits of children vaccination is to save a child’s life. The 19th century saw the invention and advancement in the medical science field. Surveys indicated that vaccination helped protect children against major diseases. Before invention of vaccines, there were many diseases, which injured and killed thousands of children. Vaccines helped eliminate some diseases while others have become extinct. The outcomes are majorly due to the safe and effective vaccines (Brown et al., 2010). A good example of the above case is polio. In the United States, polio was a feared disease because of its adverse effects on children development. Polio caused several deaths and physical impairment to children across the country. With the support of medical inventions, scientists introduced polio vaccine, which has almost caused the extinction of the disease. In this case, immunization plays a major role in saving children’s lives in relation to some diseases (Freed, 2010).
The anti-immunization parties argue that vaccines are unsafe and pose a great danger to the development of children. However, the assumption is incorrect as vaccinations are safe and effective. Just like any other medical product and services, scientists, healthcare professionals and doctors only administer vaccines to children after an extensive and vigilant examination. Moreover, the federal government plays a major role in implementation of the vaccines. In this case, they strive to ensure that the vaccines are safe and effective as required by the public interest (Ruijs et al., 2012). During administration of the vaccine, children experience discomfort. Sometimes immunization is accompanied by tenderness, pain, and redness, especially at the site of injection. These formed basis for the anti-vaccination campaigners in the sense that these minor effects had long lasting impacts. However, scientists agreed on the presence of the effects but only during immunization. Furthermore, these effects were of minimal cause as compared to the pain, trauma, and discomfort caused by the diseases the vaccines prevent. In most cases, vaccines have minimal complex side effects. In this regard, the disease-prevention paybacks of injections are much superior to the likely side effects for almost all children. Parents need to understand the long-term effects and benefits of vaccination to their children, rather than focus on the minimal side effects (Freed, 2010).
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Despite the spread of awareness of children vaccination, there are still cases of vaccine-preventable diseases. In recent years, there have been reports of resurgence of measles and whooping cough. According to reports on vaccine-related diseases, America had over 21,000 cases of whooping cough and 20 deaths in the year 2010 (Diekema, 2012). For this reasons, it is important for parents to vaccinate their children. Moreover, vaccination helps protect other people. Consequently, vaccination helps protect children and older persons from contacting other diseases. According to practitioners, not immunized children may be a threat of transmission in case of disease outbreaks in a given community. Such children pass the disease to babies who are too young for immunizations or children exempted from vaccinations. Raising a child is a full-time job, which requires time and resources. Lack of vaccines can result in children developing physical impairment and other related diseases. In the end, the parents will require several resources and time to take care of their ailing children. Moreover, a lot of time is spent on disability care, medical bills to settle and sometimes lost time at work (Brown et al., 2010). In contrast, getting children vaccinated against these diseases serve as a good investment, which is mostly covered by insurance. The federal government funds the Vaccines for Children program; hence, provision of the services is free of charge for children from low-income backgrounds. The provision of vaccine services by the federal government ensures that no child is left unprotected against vaccine-preventable diseases (Oria et al., 2013).
Vaccination helps protect future generations
From prior times, introduction of vaccination has been useful in the reduction and elimination of many killer diseases. A good example is the smallpox vaccination, which was eradicated on a global scale. Children born in present times have no fear of impairments from the disease since it has been eradicated (Ruijs et al., 2012). Continuing eradication is an assurance to future parents of better health conditions. There are concerns that vaccines may cause overload of the child’s immune system. Studies conducted on the allegation prove that vaccines do not weaken a child’s immune system. The scientific support of this dispute is that when a baby is born, they get into contact with different forms of viruses and bacteria everyday but still maintain a strong immune system. In the case of vaccines, these bacteria and viruses infused with the vaccine are usually weakened or killed. On a larger perspective, an unimmunized child at the right age will inevitably be vulnerable to unsafe and occasionally deadly illnesses (Diekema, 2012). Vaccines are necessary in the development of any child. Lack of immunizations will mean children fighting these preventable diseases. Such cases mean time consumption, mandatory isolation, pain and money. Vaccines play a major role of preventing these diseases. In case of disease outbreaks, unimmunized children will be under mandatory isolation (Freed, 2010). In such institutions as schools, outbreak of preventable illnesses will mean isolation of the unimmunized children, which may sometimes lead to discrimination. Preventing children from their usual interaction can be stressing and have adverse effects on their development. Moreover, the quarantine can last from several weeks to months until the situation is clear. Therefore, it will disrupt normal activities of the family or unimmunized children (Brown et al., 2010).
Parents should vaccinate their children for all the good reasons
In response to the anti-vaccine group, there have been several scientific advances in areas of discrepancy. The small risks linked with immunization are being reduced through advancements in the medical field. Furthermore, scientists and medical practitioners maintain a constant monitoring program of the national vaccination program to ensure that the process remains safe and effective for all. It is unavoidable to have people challenging the existing policies regarding vaccinations. However, in the wake of such challenges, the concerned parties always produce reviewed policies, which help accommodate new ideas (Ruijs et al., 2012). One major example of such processes includes the polio vaccine reviews. Polio vaccine recommendations were changed from a schedule which included live, oral vaccine to a schedule that now includes only inactivated polio vaccine. The need for this transformation was to reduce the already slight risk of developing polio from live vaccines. The success of the vaccine resulted in polio eradication from the Western Hemisphere. It is understandable that change of situation calls for change of policies (Oria et al., 2013).
According to some parents, administration of vaccines to their children comes with adverse effects. Although with unsubstantiated scientific evidence, some parents claim that the vaccines administered to children may lead to the development of other diseases. For instance, the anti-vaccines group claims that the vaccines lead to development of such diseases as autism and other autoimmune diseases. Despite lack of appropriate response from the science team, the allegations keep growing each day. Another notable example is the question of increasing baby deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (Diekema, 2012). It is understandable that people will want to question what happens to their bodies and health in general. However, it is only through well-articulated epidemiologic surveys that people can have a proper understanding on the vaccines issue. It is, therefore, improper for these groups to classify vaccines as dangerous without any scientific proofs. On the aspect of re-infections, there have been few cases of re-emergence of infectious diseases. The scientific explanation of this is that infectious diseases can find vulnerable individuals, especially those who are not under the protection of the vaccines. It is imperative to understand that the viruses and bacteria, which cause these infectious diseases, are still in existence. In this case, any unprotected person will have a high chance of contracting the diseases. Medical practitioners believe that there are few diseases in the contemporary times because of vaccination (Brown et al., 2010). Most parents who are not willing to vaccinate their children assume that the infectious agents have gone away; hence, children can do without vaccines.
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It is obligatory for all parents to recognize the significance of immunization. Based on the above discussed facts and statistics, parents should not avoid children vaccination. Additionally, parents must be mindful of the small risks linked to immunization. However, the paramount aspect of the entire subject is to understand and know the risks and likely concerns that may arise when a vulnerable child demises from a vaccine-preventable disease. It is also imperative that all the facts and statistics regarding vaccines and its significance be made public. The sooner children remain protected from vaccine-preventable diseases, the sooner the whole public can be sure that usual childhood diseases exist no more. Parents need to weigh the risk of the disease exposure when determining whether to immunize the child. Relying on the possible side effects of the vaccines, which lack scientific justification, will put the unimmunized child at risk. Vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases is necessary in order to protect the child, family and society.
Brown, K. F., Kroll, J. S., Hudson, M. J., Ramsay, M., Green, J., Long, S. J., & Sevdalis, N. (2010). Factors underlying parental decisions about combination childhood vaccinations including MMR: a systematic review. Vaccine, 28(26), 4235-4248.
I chose to refer to this particular source because it attributed disease outbreaks and suboptimal childhood vaccinations in various developed countries to the choices that parents make on behalf of their children. The research identifies various factors that influence parental vaccination decisions. It also tends to agree with the analogy that parents who decline to vaccinate their children believe that vaccines are ineffective and unsafe. They also believe that the diseases that they intend to prevent are uncommon and mild. However, various illnesses make it essential for the parents to reconsider their opinion. Different diseases like Polio tend to claim the lives of many children. Therefore, child safety becomes a prime concern. Furthermore, the research promotes advocates for parents to vaccinate their children and shun away from fears that arise from mistrust of the health workers and other factors that may lead to parents not vaccinating their children.
Diekema, D. S. (2012). Improving childhood vaccination rates. New England Journal of Medicine, 366(5), 391-393.
This particular research is important in the current study because it aims at investigating various factors that tend to make willing parents turn their backs from vaccination. It argues that parents tend to be willing to promote and engage in various vaccination exercises but they are hindered by different administration fees and charges. The research focuses on the idea that absence of administration charges will promote and encourage many parents to administer vaccinations to their children. The research also puts it forward that various schools have minimum requirements for entry levels concerning student or child admissions. The requirements insist that students undergo vaccination and majority of parents are adopting the vaccination measures to safeguard their children against infection of various parasitic diseases.
The research also recognizes the fact that personal and religious beliefs affect largely the parental decisions concerning vaccination. Parents are encouraged and obtain influence on their stands towards vaccinating their children from the various teachings relayed in the churches and other places of worship. These teachings form the foundation of their beliefs and influence major decisions about child vaccination.
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Freed, G. L., Clark, S. J., Butchart, A. T., Singer, D. C., & Davis, M. M. (2010). Parental vaccine safety concerns in 2009. Pediatrics, 125(4), 654-659.
The main purpose of the study was to demystify the reasons as to why parents refuse to vaccinate their children and outline various risks posed by their decision. The research categorized the parents based on their races and sort to discover what specific maladies affected the children in those areas. It sought to determine the impact that prevailed because of the lack of vaccination. Majority of parents, according to the research, agreed to the fact that vaccines protected and prevented their children from diseases. Their major concerns were about the various side effects that arose from the medication. They tended to agree to the fact that it is important for children to receive vaccinations but they continuously expressed concerns about the adoption of new vaccines on the market. Parents tended to follow various vaccine safety concerns but perform vaccination to their children.
Oria, P. A., Arunga, G., Lebo, E., Wong, J. M., Emukule, G., Muthoka, P., …& Katz, M. A. (2013). Assessing parents’ knowledge and attitudes towards seasonal influenza vaccination of children before and after a seasonal influenza vaccination effectiveness study in low-income urban and rural Kenya, 2010–2011. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 391.
Influenza is a disease that affects the lives of various children in many counties such as Kenya. The country experiences cases of high child mortality rates based on the neglect of parents towards vaccinating their children. Influenza is not a seasonal disease as it prevails throughout the year. The research, therefore, analyzes the importance of parents to adopt various vaccination control measures to help safeguard the lives of their children against influenza. The research recognizes and proposes that apart from the childhood immunization procedures, children should frequently undergo vaccination against other types of maladies that may affect them either in school or during interactions with their peers.
Ruijs, W. L., Hautvast, J. L., van IJzendoorn, G., van Ansem, W. J., van der Velden, K., & Hulscher, M. E. (2012). How orthodox protestant parents decide on the vaccination of their children: a qualitative study. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 408.
Religion is a major source of influence concerning vaccination practices. The Orthodox Protestants receive teachings about the importance of preservation and care of human lives. They believe that the life of a child is important. It is not within their means to protect themselves but parents have to help them to safeguard their future. It has influenced majority of parents to take precautionary measures during the early stages of a child’s life. Through these means, parents have adopted various precautionary measures such as vaccination to their children to guard them against infection of diseases.