The controversy concerning vaccination for children has been a debate for many parents. A vaccine is defined as a biological agent used to prevent very serious illnesses and diseases, such as smallpox, measles, influenza, tuberculosis, and hepatitis by injecting a weakened infectious organism into the human body. When vaccines are given, the human body produces antibodies against the foreign substance, thus creating a defense mechanism for immunity to occur. Parenting decisions based on vaccinations are a sensitive matter in a child’s life. Many parents favor vaccines because they care about their children’s health during the first years of their lives.
There are parents who fully trust and admire doctors for their efforts in contributing to preventative healthcare. However, some parents delay vaccinations because they are genuinely concerned about severe allergic reactions or long-term side effects. Other parents completely refuse vaccinations because they are unable to afford it or hold personal, moral, or religious beliefs. Disease prevention is important to public health because it protects both those who receive them and those with whom they come in contact with. There is a minority of parents who are against vaccinations because of the idea that it causes more harm than good. They fear that vaccinations will cause serious and permanent damage in the natural immune system. They also believe that their child’s immune system is never allowed to grow if they become too dependent on the medicine.
The Family Doctor website has an article called, Vaccines: What They Are and Why Your Child Needs Them that affirms, “Vaccines are generally quite safe. The protection provided by vaccines far outweighs the very small risk of serious problems. Vaccines have made many serious childhood diseases rare today” (Editorial Staff). A pediatrician and bioethicist from Vanderbilt University on the Flu Vaccines Withdrawn in Alert Over Side-effects article also says, “Vaccines are important tools in preventing serious infectious disease across the lifespan, from infancy through adulthood. All health care interventions, however, carry the possibility of risk and vaccines are no exception” (Clayton 12). There is no guarantee that vaccines do not cause risks, but scientific studies reveal that serious problems rarely happen. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, “Any vaccine can cause side effects. For the most part these are minor .
. . sore arm or low-grade fever and go away within a few days.” Vaccines cause mild and temporary side effects, such as redness, fever, or swelling at the site where the shot was given (“Frequently Asked Questions About Immunizations”). An article called, The Truth About Gardasil talks about girls receiving the Gardasil shot and their adverse effects.
These effects included nausea, vomiting, redness, swelling, and more. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows the probability of being about a one in four people to develop these symptoms. Therefore, these girls were most likely part of the minority group to acquire these reactions.Since vaccines have to be taken numerous times in a year, parents oppose vaccines because of the costs.
They are expensive depending on the amount of doses, as well as the cost of a doctor’s visit. For example, the Gardasil shot is specifically made to prevent cervical cancer in women and it costs $360 for three shots. Many health insurance companies will pay for this vaccine and there are also programs that help people without insurance to get it for low or no cost. Health insurance companies emphasize preventive care, which maintains good overall health. Unfortunately, there are many people who are uninsured and these services are simply too expensive. The federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called, Vaccines provide benefits to help make it more affordable and accessible.
The website states, “If you don’t have insurance, or if it does not cover vaccines, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program may be able to help . . . provides vaccines at no cost to doctors who serve eligible children . .
. younger than 19 years of age.” This federally funded program helps those who have the inability to pay for vaccinations.
There is another program that may help provide free vaccines called, the Michigan Vaccine Replacement Program. Gail Brink is the finance director for the health department and notes that uninsured or underinsured people have increased the last few years and more are applying for programs (“Cost of Vaccines Have Risen Drastically”). According to an analysis by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every dollar spent on immunizations saves $18.
40 in medical costs, creating a total of $42 billion in savings from treating unvaccinated diseased individuals. Vaccines create significant economic benefits for our society even for people who do not have the proper health insurance to get the preventative care they need. In addition, preventative care is easier than curing and less expensive than treatments.The development of vaccines is one of the greatest advances in modern medicine. However, parents do not see this as an important matter in terms of getting their child vaccinated. Countless of parents believe that doctors are greedy and ignorant, so they develop trust issues in their medical assessments.
This can be revealed from the KevinMD website which has an article called, When People Decide Not to Vaccinate their Children, I Take It Personally. It is written by a medical doctor who has worked in both pediatric and adult medicine for years and states, “I see people who are not only rejecting what we have to offer, but are vilifying doctors . . .
who have devoted decades of their lives to caring for children and families and continue to work their hardest to give patients the highest quality care we know how” (Au). Au genuine cares for children and families, but she personally feels offended by people who reject her efforts and motives to help. It is important that parents recognize the fact that doctors go through years of education to dedicate their lives to work in the healthcare field and help treat sick or injured people. Parents should also give not only doctors, but scientists the credit for extensively creating and testing vaccines intended for preventative healthcare. Many parents often think vaccines are unnecessary in many cases where the risk of death from disease is highly unlikely. The reason for this is that they believe maintaining a child’s health is enough to protect them from sickness. Although the death rate of childhood diseases was reduced by good hygiene and purified drinking water prior to vaccines, children are now exposed to thousands of germs at any given moment that is beyond our control. This is especially difficult when a child is in school and their parents are incapable of looking after them.
A number of parents go through extreme measures to avoid vaccinating their child by helping them develop good personal habits. Some even decide to home school their child to keep them away from people who carry germs. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention says, “If an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease.
Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as the whooping cough, measles, and polio.” Throughout the years, potentially fatal diseases like the ones listed in the citation have been eliminated and reduced with routine immunization. This is why parents should at least take their child to see a primary physician for annual checkups and get the recommended immunizations.Additionally, many parents jeopardize the health of the public due to their religious beliefs. Christian parents may take a passage from the New Testament principle, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy” (New American Bible, 1 Cor. 3:16-17). Some may have even taken passages in the scripture from the Old Testament principle, “You are children of the LORD, your God. You shall not gash yourselves .
. .” (New American Bible, Duet. 14.1). Christian parents believe that our bodies are, “temples” and should not be tampered with. According to an article called, Parents Should Be Pressed to Have their Children Vaccinated, a social worker and founder of National Council for the Child named Kadman says, There are those who say ‘God will protect the children, not the vaccine.
‘ They think that the fact that the majority of children are vaccinated will protect them. But this is a selfish attitude, as the lower the vaccination rate in the general population, the greater the risk that the disease will break out among unvaccinated children. (Siegal)Vaccinated children will not guarantee resistance against disease as well as the influence from Christian values. In the article on the Public Health Report website called, The Biology of Vaccines and Community Decisions to Vaccinate, Freeman states that, “. .
. immunization strategy for protecting entire communities can only be effective when herd immunity has been achieved. Herd immunity is achieved when there is a sufficient level of vaccine protection in the population to prevent circulation of the disease to those who remain biologically susceptible” (21). Therefore, if the majority of the population is immunized, there are enough people to prevent the spread of disease through the population.
The ongoing debate about anti-vaccination confuses a handful of parents to take a decision at their own risk. We are fortunate to live in a time when vaccines are an important health benefit to the public, especially for children who are prone to certain diseases. Allergic reactions are mild and protection undeniably outweighs the severity of the fatal side effects. Vaccination fees should not be a setback because those without insurance or have a plan that does not have drug coverage may qualify for free vaccines through federally funded programs. Vaccines prepare children to protect their bodies to fight many potentially deadly diseases. Doctors and scientists should be trusted as they have continually studied in their field to become fully qualified. There is without a doubt that the majority of them are true to their work.
When we have the guidance of these healthcare providers, it is easier to make decisions based on all the essential factors to good health. Even so, boosting a child’s immunity naturally with healthy foods or plenty of sleep is not enough to protect them from infectious diseases. There will be fewer amounts of children that can catch a disease when a larger number of populations are vaccinated. Making sure a child’s vaccination records are updated and that they are getting a yearly flu shot is a preventative measure not only for a child’s benefit, but for the rest of us.