Should We Vaccinate?

Introduction

A child getting vaccinated.

Whether or not to vaccinate children is a common debate among new parents. Due to misconceptions and misinformation that are abundant in today’s society, many parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children. The increase in those choosing not to vaccinate has led to many communicable diseases that were previously eradicated in the US having made a return among the population.

Why vaccinate?

A certain percentage of the population must be vaccinated to reach the point where there are not enough susceptible people for the disease to spread, leading to the eradication of the disease. This is referred to as “herd immunity.” Choosing not to get vaccinated contributes to the community not reaching herd immunity for the disease to be eradicated, putting many susceptible people at risk.

Barriers to vaccination

There are certain individuals in every population that cannot be vaccinated due to preexisting medical conditions that put them at too high of risk to receive a vaccination. Such conditions include those who are pregnant, immunodeficient, or those who are allergic to any component of the vaccine. There are also certain individuals that choose to not get vaccinated due to religious reasons who are currently exempt from compulsion to be vaccinated. It is essential that those who are able to receive vaccinations get them, and do so on time, to protect themselves and those who can’t be vaccinated. There are also those who falsely claim exemption for these conflicts when, in reality, their reasons for rejecting vaccinations are personal in nature. Although, these reasons for exemption are important for the protection of individual rights, balancing individual rights with the health and safety of the general population has proven to be a difficult issue to solve.

Much of the reasoning behind the resistance of vaccines is based on inaccurate information being spread by those of power (the famous and/or wealthy), giving leverage to anti-vaccers in the political arena. A common misconception about vaccines is that they are the cause of autism which has been spread through the media for the past few years. Even though the original study that came out with a link between autism and vaccines has been disproven, it has been difficult to change the public’s opinion. In reality, deaths and severe medical conditions associated with vaccines are extremely uncommon and vaccines are safer in today’s society than they have ever been.

Even though the cost of allowing disease to spread throughout the US population is much higher than the cost of vaccinating, it is difficult for legislators to mandate vaccination because of the risk of violating individual liberties. Now, in the 21st century, there is a much stronger focus on individual liberties and more limitations on the government than there used to be, which is one of the major barriers to compelling vaccination.

What needs to be done

Vaccines should be mandatory for all children and adults. Vaccines have been widely important in eradicating many very deadly diseases in both developed and developing nations.

An example of a deadly disease that can be completely eradicated through vaccination is the measles. There is an MMR vaccine which helps to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella and has been proven to be very effective. Until recently, there was widespread use of the MMR vaccine that led to herd immunity and eradication of measles in the United States was declared in 2000. In light of the recent anti vaccine movement, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people refusing to be vaccinated which has led to measles making a return among the US population.   

An unvaccinated infant with the measles.

Vaccines should be mandatory for all children and adults unless it is unsafe to vaccinate due to medical complications. When at the age where vaccinations should be administered to children, doctors should review medical information to make an educated decision regarding any health risks for the child on an individual basis. If health risks are not greater than the risk of not vaccinating and contracting the disease, then vaccination should be compelled. The CDC website contains information about who is not eligible to receive certain vaccines. This list could be expanded upon as a guide to parents and doctors when determining safety of vaccinating children. Religious exemption from vaccination should be allowed in order to protect individual rights but should be monitored closely to ensure that people aren’t falsely claiming religious conflicts to avoid vaccination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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