Children begin being vaccinated against harmful diseases at birth. Vaccinations are administered throughout the United States in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and health departments. Vaccinations provide protection to children and adults from many devastating viruses and bacteria. A majority of parents vaccinate their children as recommended but some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children because they believe them to be harmful. These parents believe that they should be able to choose to have their children vaccinated or not. While vaccines may have some risk, and while vaccines should not be forced upon parents by law, it is still a better idea to vaccinate your child than to choose not to.
When children receive vaccines they develop stronger immune systems against disease. The Chinese have been administering forms of vaccinations for smallpox since the time period between 960 and 1269. They were not always made or administered in the traditional way. The Chinese people used the scabs of an infected small pox individual to immunize themselves against small pox. They would crush the scabs into a dust and then inhale it. This would give the individual small doses of the virus causing the persons immune system to develop protection against the invading disease and thus making themselves immune to small pox in the future. This practice is called variolation, and it originated from the observation that people who survived a previous smallpox infection somehow become resistant to getting the infection again. (Young, 2012).
Vaccines today work the same way. They are developed to be less harmful to a person then the actual disease. Often a dead virus or part of the virus is used to make the vaccination that is injected into an individual. This vaccination shot causes a child’s immune system to develop a future defense against the disease. They are now immunized against certain viruses or bacteria if they were ever to encounter them. This is very important in younger children because they have a weaker immune system than adults. It provides them with a needed defense against harmful diseases. They do not become infected if they are exposed to the viruses or bacteria in the future. Children who are not vaccinated are susceptible to these viruses and bacteria and may become infected when exposed to them. They may become very sick which is uncomfortable for the child and hard on the nursing parent. Having your child vaccinated is a great way to improve your child’s overall health.
Vaccinations save lives throughout the world, especially in children. Looking at third world countries without vaccinations one can see the mortality rate being greater. Some will argue that living conditions, doctor care, and poverty are causes for this. This is in part true but taking a closer look at causes of death it is seen that viruses such as the measles can have a devastating effect on populations. “According to the World Health Organization, nearly 900,000 measles-related deaths occurred among persons in developing countries in 1999. In populations that are not immune to measles, measles spreads rapidly. As many as three of every 1,000 persons with measles will die in the U.S. In the developing world, the rate is much higher, with death occurring in about one of every 100 persons with measles.
If vaccinations were stopped, each year about 2.7 million measles deaths worldwide could be expected.” (What Would Happen, 2012) In the U.S., widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99 percent reduction in measles compared with the pre-vaccine era. Before polio vaccine was available, 13,000 to 20,000 cases of paralytic polio were reported each year in the United States. Annual epidemics of polio often left victims—mostly children—in braces, crutches, wheelchairs, and, in serious cases, iron lungs. (What Would Happen, 2012) .As a result of global polio eradication efforts, the number of cases reported globally has decreased from more than 350,000 cases in 1988 to 187 cases in 2012 (as of November 14, 2012). These numbers support the fact that vaccinations are valuable and save lives. If all parents vaccinated their children it is believed that we could someday eradicate many illnesses.
The administration of vaccinations allows for people to congregate in large groups such as schools, churches, lectures, and sporting events without the threat of having an illness such as the mumps or chicken pox spread amongst them. Children are especially in danger of these diseases because they are exposed to them frequently. They come in contact with large groups of people when attending school. Without vaccinations disease would spread at public gatherings.
Children who are not vaccinated have a much greater risk of contracting diseases such as chicken pox. Prior to the licensing of the chickenpox vaccine in 1995, almost all persons in the United States had suffered from chickenpox by adulthood. Each year, the virus caused an estimated 4 million cases of chickenpox, 11,000 hospitalizations, and 100-150 deaths (What Would Happen, 2012). The severity of the chicken pox in an unvaccinated child causes much discomfort and can last quite a while. Can you imagine a one year old with itchy spots all over his body, face, eyelids, and genitals? The chicken pox causes the child to miss school and often the parent to miss work. This is costly emotionally and financially. The vaccination against chicken pox can spare your child this misery by preventing the virus to affect them or only allowing a very mild case to surface. This is why schools require children to be immunized, in order to prevent spread of disease.
Parents argue that they should not have to have their child vaccinated to attend school. They believe that it should be their choice what goes into their child’s body. Parent’s reasons for not immunizing their child mainly arise from the fact that they believe the vaccinations are dangerous. In fact there may be mild side effects from the vaccination but there are typically no serious side effects. Claims of Autism being linked to vaccination have been scientifically disproven (Austvoll-Dahlgren, Helseth, 2010). Without any significant danger to their children from vaccinations, parents should definitely choose to vaccinate. Schools encourage and require child immunizations in order to stop disease from causing students to be sick.
The immunized children in schools may not be infected with the disease but may still carry it. If a child was allowed in the school without being vaccinated, where there are many students carrying many viruses and bacteria, they would be potentially exposed to many them. Without being vaccinated the student would more than likely become sick, potentially with something serious. Vaccinations are easily available to all individuals in all financial brackets. People can often have their children vaccinated for free at local Health Departments. Medical insurances also cover vaccinations at hospitals and doctor’s offices. The availability of vaccinations to Americans should be utilized. The benefits of vaccinations to children are supported in the fact that they help develop a child’s immune system, prevent the spread of disease, and prevent illness and death. Vaccinations should be the choice of the parent but parents should want to choose what is best for their child. The fact is vaccinations save children’s lives and should be administered.
Austvoll-Dahlgren, A., & Helseth, S. (2010). What informs parents’ decision-making about childhood vaccinations? Journal Of Advanced Nursing, 66(11), 2421-2430. doi:http://dx.doi.org.bakerezproxy.palnet.info/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05403.x Ross, Oakland. (2011, Jan 7). “Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent vaccine research”. The Star (Toronto). Retrieved February 25, 2013 “Thimerosal in vaccines: frequently asked questions (FAQs)”. Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2007) Retrieved on February 24, 2013 from http:fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/ UCM070430 What Would Happen if We Stopped Vaccinations?” (2012) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 25, 2013 from http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/whatifstop.htm Young M.D., Leslie. (2012) “The Beginning” Retrieved February 25, 2013 from http://www.netplaces.com/vaccines/a-historical-perspective/the-beginning.htm