Child Vaccination – Do or Don’t?

The topic of whether or not child vaccination is good or bad has been very hot recently. The choice between getting your children vaccinated can be an extremely hard one, and that decision may impact the health of your child for life. In my opinion, I would get my kids vaccinated in a heartbeat, but across North America more and more parents are deciding to opt out of the process that has been the norm for decades.

Children are receiving vaccines as soon as possible to prevent diseases like “Measles”.

In all, vaccines have brought seven major human diseases under some degree of control – smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, yellow fever,whooping cough, polio, and measles.[1] All of these diseases were feared and faced by plenty of people before vaccines were introduced. With the horrible effects of these diseases permanently remembered in history, why would one even consider avoiding vaccination in the first place?

 

The answer is simple: fear. Vaccines can cause serious and sometimes fatal side effects and can contain harmful ingredients. Meanwhile, others state that they believe that the government should not intervene in personal medical choices.[2] According to the CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), all vaccines carry a risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in about one per million children. Understandably, this could easily worry parents into second guessing vaccination without first contacting their doctor or doing their own research with an open mind. While many different ingredients are considered to be dangerous for different reasons, thimerosal, a mercury compound is the most popular among the anti-vaccine community. This is the substance that some physicians believe is linked to autism. While time and time again, physicians and doctors across the globe have disproved any significant link to autism, the fear of having a child with autism drives parents away from vaccines. Rob Ring Chief Science Officer, Autism Speaks, an organization supporting those with autism, states that “Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism.  The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.  We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.” [3] Yet still parents will conspire against their doctors and the government and avoid getting their children vaccinated.

 

In an episode of a popular Youtube series “Scishow” Hank Green discusses the science of anti-vaccination.

I am pro vaccination along with the majority of others who also understand the benefits of a vaccinated child. Vaccines can save children’s lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “most childhood vaccines are 90%-99% effective in preventing disease.” and to me, this statistic significantly outweighs the one in a million chance of anaphylactic fatality. [4] Also, Vaccines are proven to be effective simply due to the fact that the majority of the horrid diseases from the past are unknown to the current population. If you asked a highschool student what smallpox was, you would likely get an answer but only that they have heard of it. The smallpox disease has been eliminated by vaccines, and other diseases are well on their way to extinction. The whooping cough was a widespread disease that caused a fever of over 105 degrees and in some cases, seizures. [5] Because of the whooping cough vaccination, 64 percent of cases are prevented worldwide, every year. [1] While today, nobody thinks twice about catching a disease, before vaccinations were introduced diseases like smallpox were living nightmares.

 

The host of a popular American talk show invites doctors to express their feelings regarding the anti-vaccine movement.

“The smallpox was always present, filling the churchyards with corpses, tormenting with constant fears all whom it had stricken, leaving on those whose lives it spared the hideous traces of its power, turning the babe into a changeling at which the mother shuddered, and making the eyes and cheeks of the big hearted maiden objects of horror to the lover.”

-T.B. Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James II, Vol IV

This quote is just one example of how a now preventable disease can tear apart the population, and how serious these diseases were at the time. I can only imagine what it was like to live with these diseases alive and present, and I admit that I am very lucky to live in a time where these diseases have mainly been erased or highly controlled.

Child vaccination and the fact that some parents are avoiding it is a very complicated issue. But, with so many facts pointing to the safety and importance of child vaccination it is hard to find any significant reason to avoid vaccines. I say that we stick to what has worked, and is still working, listen to our doctors, and consider the history of disease before making an uneducated decision.

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How do you feel that doctors and other medical professionals could approach the anti-vaccine community? Do you think that children’s vaccination should be up to the parents? Why? Leave your responses in the comment section below and start a conversation of your own.

Sources:

“Vaccines Bring 7 Diseases under Control.” Vaccines Bring 7 Diseases under Control. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. . http://www.unicef.org/pon96/hevaccin.htm [1]

“Vaccines ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. .  http://vaccines.procon.org/ [2]

“Vaccines and Autism.” Autism Speaks. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.  https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/policy-statements/information-about-vaccines-and-autism [3]

“AAP.org.” AAP.org. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.  https://www.aap.org/en-us/Pages/Default.aspx [4]

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.  http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pertussis/fs-parents.html [5]

11 thoughts on “Child Vaccination – Do or Don’t?

  1. For me personally, I am absolutely terrified of needles and am glad that I received vaccinations as a small child because of a few things. First off, I was too small to remember getting them and some protect you for life meaning I won’t have to get them again. Second, I had no understanding of what was going on so I couldn’t really fear it. Now that I am older and know what goes on with them, it helps build the fear because now I know what is going on when I enter that building and I know what to expect before it happens. Also, I think child vaccination is important because of how many dangerous things it can prevent and they really do turn out to be a “you’ll thank me later” moment because it prevents suffering. I remember getting the chicken pox as a kid and I know that unless I get a shingles vaccine, I have a chance of getting shingles. Chicken pox were not a fun experience and when my little brother was born there was actually a vaccination for chicken pox that my parents got him. Since vaccinations are mostly effective, he probably won’t get chicken pox and have to suffer with them or shingles.

  2. Very well written post and a very well chosen topic. The content of your post is important and surprising. I think that doctors deserve to be trusted because they have studied medicine for many years and know what they’re talking about. About their approach, a doctor is doing his/her job. They don’t have the time or skill to tell a parent carefully and make them feel comfortable giving their child a vaccine. I think that parent’s freedom to choose weather or not they want to vaccinate their children should get a bit more restricted, since, they are risking starting a disease in that place and infecting a lot of children and people. And for what, simply because a parent who has no idea what they are talking about has trust issues with the government or the doctors.

  3. Great article Trent! This issue has been debated for a very long time, and it is important that people are educated on this topic. I think you did an excellent job at clearly stating your opinion and supporting it. To further enhance your blog, I would refute the other opinion.
    Also, you’ve added many multimedia elements to this post which really livens it up!
    I believe that education is key, and by doctors telling you how vaccines are important, it can really make people and parents confident when they decide whether or not they actually want to take the vaccine.
    The decision to vaccinate children should be up to the parents because well, they’re the parents.
    But, I think this should be done after they’re told about what each vaccine could actually prevent, and how common the disease is that the vaccine is preventing. With all of this being said, the mandatory vaccines must be taken.
    Awesome job!

  4. Great thought provoking post Trent!

    As Mr Puley will tell you there is emotional angst that develops in parents as you never want to do something that potentially causes your child irreputable damage. I remember the emotional roller coaster when Medea received her first set of vaccines. Since it is a weakened or destroyed virus they inject into the little person your body perceives it as a threat and has a threat response… So similar to being sick that she became fevered, achy when touched and cried for a day or two. I know that this is nothing in the larger picture but makes you feel like you have done something terribly wrong to your child. With Tanit, our second, it was less of a question as her sister has been already… Although I was emensely angered when ‘they’ snuck in an optional chicken pox vaccine which was new to the market without my consent. The nurse plainly said ‘oh I just added that one because I figured you wanted it’…SERIOUSLY, REALLY?? and then the vaccination site became seriously infected. It grew inflamed, hard to the touch and took over the top part of her arm. She needed a two week round of antibiotics!

    One line that troubles me as a parent and educated person… And truly I considered NOT vaccinating and may not have if I knew I could send my kids to school unvaccinated… The line that states ‘ I am pro vaccination along with the majority of others who also understand the benefits of a vaccinated child’… People who chose not to vaccinate do understand the benefits. For them the unknown or possible problems it can cause to their child out weigh the benefits. Don’t be so quick to judge as parents really are trying to be the best parent they know how to be!

    I often times use this PBS documentary in class with my bio students after they learn about vaccines, antibiotics and the differences between them… (Big pet peeve is when a student tells me that antibiotics kill viruses… So wrong!).
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/the-vaccine-war/

    I ask them the question… Your newborn has now reached the age where they are to receive their first vaccination…. Knowing both sides of the story now what do you do and why? Students have to grapple with consequences and potential issues they have never considered and some end up angry with me for making then chose a side now. I alway figure that knowledge is power and empowering my students to make informed choices that they have thought about deeply is not one that they will regret in the future.

    Nice post… Keep them coming!

    • I’m glad you decided to comment on my blog with your real life experience! As I am just a teenager I lack the viewpoint that a parent may have. And I agree that you should have been fully aware of everything that the nurses planned to do with your child.

      To answer your question: With all of the research I have done in terms of this topic and the different viewpoints on the subject, I would proceed to vaccinate my child. In my honest opinion, the anti-vaccine arguments were not very convincing to say the least. The majority of the reasons relied on beliefs and values, and less on facts. I am a very practical person and I have no interest in heartfelt rants. I respect the side of the doctors that have an open mind and prove their point with statistics, and I have made an educated decision to vaccinate my child when the time comes. (If the mother agrees with me!)

  5. This is a very informative post! I wonder about the impact of the media on people’s perceptions towards vaccines. How can we determine what’s accurate versus a tactic to convince us of a certain viewpoint? How did you judge?

    Aviva

    • The media plays a huge role in the perception of a variety of issues, and child vaccination is no different. Jenny McCarthy is a great example of this, as she believes that vaccination caused her son’s autism.

      There will always be speculation about ulterior motives behind the use of vaccines. From the belief of money hungry corporations to corrupt government decisions, I don’t believe that anyone should let fear drive their choices.

      I chose the side with the most facts. When researching the topic, I started with an open mind and hoped to form an educated opinion and avoid bias. The majority of anti-vaccination articles avoided using facts about the vaccine and relied on a lot more on opinion based rants and word of ear, often from media. When researching the benefits of vaccines, the content was almost strictly driven by facts and this was significantly more convincing than the latter.

  6. You have a well thought out argument. It is very convincing, at least for someone who agrees with you. I suspect that anti-vaccine parents have heard many of these arguments before, but they are still anti-vaccine. What argument or evidence do you think it would take to convince these parents to change their stance?

    • Sadly, I don’t know exactly what will convince parents to alter their opinion. Also, there is a very high chance that one thing would convince only a fraction of parents, as not all viewpoints revolve around the same facts.

      If I was to try and convince parents that they were making the wrong decision I would use educated doctors to prove my point. I wouldn’t blame anybody for not trusting me since I’m just a high school student. The use of doctors would hopefully be enough to at least convince parents to listen. This is explored in the Jimmy Kimmel video included in the post.

  7. Awesome and timely article, I really enjoyed reading it! I despise the anti-vaccination movement and all the harm they have done. There is currently a whooping cough out break in the US, besides the fact a safe a vaccine is available. If i could make some recommendations, I would encourage you to briefly explain near the beginning what exactly a vaccine is and how its different from a simple cure, and more on the nature of vaccines.

    Vaccines don’t cure diseases, they prevent you from getting the illness and spreading it. By getting your child vaccinated you don’t only protect your child, but also those around them who cant get the vaccine. There are some children who cannot get the vaccine due to health issues, as long as enough people around them cannot spread the disease to them, they are safe. however, as more and more people refuse the vaccine, these children become at risk. The idea of giving your child a needle for an illness they don’t have scares parents.

    Overall, I love the article, and its about something I’m really passionate about. I may write my own vaccine article i the future. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks for reading Elliot, indeed vaccines are used to prevent diseases before they happen and not cure them. I will add an explanation at the beginning of the post as soon as possible to help readers understand this. I can tell that you have done some research yourself and what scares me as well is the fact that children not getting their shots can harm others that could not get the shot for medical reasons.

      It is understandable that parents tend to fear the possibility of regret in the future, but I don’t agree that taking no action should be the default choice. This is discussed in the embedded YouTube video, “The Science of Anti-Vaccination”.

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