An Argument in Support of Vaccination Review
Pro-Vaccination: An Argument in Support of Vaccination
In the past, there has been marked increase in the number of vaccinations recommended as more vaccines are developed in an attempt to rein in various diseases. Accompanying this increase has been parental concerns regarding the relevance and safety of the said vaccines. Apart from parents, various anti-vaccine proponents have also presented numerous and diverse arguments against vaccines. It should, however, be noted that the various concerns as well as arguments against vaccines have been countered by medical professionals who are of the opinion that the relevance of vaccines cannot be overstated in seeking to avert vaccine-preventable diseases. This text revisits this debate in an attempt to highlight not only the need, but also the significance and value of vaccines.
To begin with, it is important to note that over time, developments in medicine and medical sciences have made it possible for serious illnesses to be prevented via the administration of the appropriate vaccines. It is for this reason that Guidolin and Meglei (104) term vaccines as some of â€œthe greatest medical advances in history.â€ Vaccine-preventable diseases today include, but they are not limited to, whooping cough, mumps, and measles. It should, however, be noted that these diseases still pose a significant threat, and as a matter of fact, deaths continue to be reported every year from the said diseases. Towards this end, therefore, it should be noted that any child who has not been vaccinated against these diseases risks infection. Essentially, over the years, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of various vaccine-preventable infectious diseases in the United States. However, some of the said infectious diseases continue to be common in other jurisdictions across the world. International travellers could easily bring such diseases to the U.S. As Guidolin and Meglei (107) point out, vaccines come in handy in seeking to curtail the spread of some infectious diseases that could potentially jeopardize efforts to promote the health and wellbeing of populations. In that regard, therefore, there is need to vaccinate all children against vaccine-preventable diseases so as to avoid infection. This would be the only logical move in seeking to save the lives of millions of children who are at risk of various infections. According to Whitney, Zhou, Singleton, and Schuchat (356), it is estimated that â€œamong children born during 1994â€“ 2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.â€
Next, vaccines save a lot of money and time for both parents and the larger public sector. This is especially true given that when compared to the cost of treatment for a vaccine-preventable infectious disease, the cost of vaccines is much lower. It is important to note that in addition to spending money, parents are likely to waste a lot of time tending to a child suffering from a vaccine-preventable disease. As a matter of fact, as Whitney, Zhou, Singleton, and Schuchat (357) point out, â€œamong children born during 1994â€“ 2013, vaccination willâ€¦ over the course of their livesâ€ result in â€œa net saving of $295 billion in direct costs and $1.38 trillion in total societal costs.â€ Sugerman, Barskey, Delea, and Ortega-Sanchez (749) point out that in 2008, a 7-year-old boy who had remained unvaccinated against measles (intentionally) caused a serious outbreak of the same disease in San Diego, California upon returning from Switzerland. As a consequence 11 children who had not yet been vaccinated against measles contracted the disease. According to the authors, this particular incidence caused â€œa net public-sector cost of $10,376 per caseâ€ (Sugerman, Barskey, Delea, and Ortega-Sanchez 750). In that regard, therefore, one could argue that vaccines result in immense economic benefits for the larger society. This is more so the case when factors such as early death and disability â€“ and how they relate to loss of productivity – are factored into the equation.
Third, it should be noted that vaccines still retain their relevance in todayâ€™s society as vaccine-preventable illnesses are yet to be fully eradicated. Although the U.S. has largely been successful in recent times in its attempt to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases, with Offit and Moser (72) pointing out that â€œthe Hib vaccine has virtually eliminated Hib infections in the United Statesâ€, the said illnesses still wreak havoc in some other parts of the world. Indeed, as the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control â€“ CDC rightfully points out, diseases such as diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, as well as chickenpox and polio are, in essence, â€œonly a plane ride away.â€ As CDC further points out, although the circulation of the said diseases is considered to be extremely low in the U.S., there are countries today that experience epidemic levels of the same. Nobody should, therefore, claim that these are diseases of the past for which immunization may not be unnecessary. For this reason, CDC argues that a drop in vaccination levels would most likely trigger a resurgence of quite a number of the diseases listed above. This is more so the case given that â€œsomeone leaving India yesterday could very easily pass along the polio virus to unvaccinated children in the United States todayâ€ (CDC). Thus, the relevance of vaccines today can still not be overstated.
In an assessment of this nature, it would also be fair and prudent to highlight some of the arguments that have in the past been presented by anti-vaccination proponents in an attempt to stall or terminate vaccinations exercises in the country. One of the most prominent of these arguments holds that vaccines are unsafe as they likely contain harmful ingredients, and thus could harm the health and wellbeing of children to whom they are administered (Sugerman, Barskey, Delea, and Ortega-Sanchez 749). It should, however be noted that this is an argument that is not often presented with sufficient data to back up its claims. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – FDA, given that the vast majority of vaccines manufactured every year are meant to be administered to adults, children, as well as babies who are of good health, the safety of such doses ought to be paramount. One of the ingredients of some vaccines in use today, and that has been frequently cited as being a harmful, is aluminum. According to Offit and Moser (63), neurological harm could afflict those who ingest excess aluminum. FDA downplays these fears. In essence, according to FDA, â€œaluminum adjuvant containing vaccines have a demonstrated safety profile of over six decades of use and have only uncommonly been associated with severe local reactions.â€ Offit and Moser (67) also point out that there have been reports of allergic reactions in reference to the influenza vaccine. Additionally, the authors point out that the stabilizer (i.e. gelatin) used in chicken pox vaccine could cause some allergic reactions to some people. In the end, however, Offit and Moser (71) are of the opinion that â€œwhile there are small risks to vaccines, nothing is risk-free.â€ As a matter of fact, on a lighter note, the authors point out that an individual is likely to die of a motor accident on the way to the doctorâ€™s office, than he is to die from complications arising out of vaccination. This is an assertion collaborated by Rooney and Salariya. According to the authors, the only person who ought to fear vaccinations is the one who is often afraid of injections (Rooney and Salariya 112).
Yet another argument that is often presented in an attempt to highlight the irrelevance of vaccines is the need to permit individuals to make personal medical choices with no government interference. This argument is more of an individual freedoms concern. In this case, it is argued that parents ought to be permitted to make decisions (including medical decisions) on all matters involving their children (including on whether or not vaccines should be administered). According to Rooney and Salariya (103), proponents of this argument are of the opinion that the state has no business forcing parents to have their children vaccinated against their will, as this would be infringing on their individual freedoms and rights to make decisions that are in the best interests of a child. It should, however, be noted that he refusal by parents to have their children vaccinated could be interpreted as medical neglect. Refusing a child proper medical care effectively jeopardizes the health and wellbeing of the said child. This qualifies as neglect, in my opinion.
There are various solutions that have been suggested over time to the problem of parents refusing vaccine for their children. One such solution is proposed by Kunzmann (77) who is of the opinion that the role physicians ought to play in this endeavor is immense. According to the author, given that the patients of today are more outspoken of matters that could impact on their own health and well-being as well as that of their loved ones, physicians ought to adopt a more aggressive stance in seeking to champion the relevance of vaccinating children. In this case, there would be need to properly acquaint oneself with the arguments presented on the other side of the debate so as to be able to tackle them in an informed and valid manner. It is also important to note that given the prominence of social media as a medium of communication in the present day, Kunzmann (136) is of the opinion that there should be deliberate efforts to reach out to those ignorant of the facts about vaccinations. Studies conducted in the past have indicated that it may be helpful to monitor â€œTwitter to uncover concerns and misconceptions, gauge public opinion, and aid pediatricians in refuting the anti-vaccination argumentâ€ (Kunzmann 153) For meaningful progress to be made in relation to the minimization of resistance to vaccinations, the relevant agencies must play their role effectively in seeking to reach the greatest number of people. In the words of Plotkin, Orenstein, and Offit (137), â€œdisease control or elimination requires the induction of protective immunity in a sufficient proportion of the population.â€
In the final analysis, it is clear from the discussion above that the relevance of vaccinations cannot be overstated. In addition to being effective, vaccines are safe. Indeed, thanks to vaccines, the U.S. has in the past seen a drastic decline in the number of a wide range of infectious diseases including, but not limited to, whooping cough, mumps, and measles. There is need to ensure that parents are sensitized on the need for vaccines. The safety of the vaccines should also be emphasized. This is more so the case given that vaccines are subjected to an elaborate review by not only the federal government, but also doctors and scientists in an attempt to further enhance their safety. When many parents fail to ensure that their children are vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases, outbreaks of such diseases become even more likely.
Centers for Disease Prevention and Control â€“ CDC. Low Immunization Rates. CDC, Feb 2011. Web. 12 Dec 2018.
Guidolin, Keegan and Gaby Meglei. â€œThe Role of Vaccination in Global Health.â€ UWOMJ. 83.2 (2014): 17-19.
Kunzmann, Kevin. â€œPhysicians Face the Burden of the Anti-vaccination Argument.â€ MD Magazine. 7 December 2017. Web. 16 November 2018.
Offit, Paul and Charlotte Moser. Vaccines & Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2011.
Plotkin, Stanley, Walter Orenstein and Paul Offit. Vaccines. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Health Sciences, 2008.
Rooney, Anne and David Salariya. You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Vaccinations! New York, NY: Scholastic Incorporated, 2015
Sugerman, David et al. â€œMeasles Outbreak in a Highly Vaccinated Population, San Diego, 2008: Role of the Intentionally Undervaccinated.â€ Pediatrics. 125.4: 747-55.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration â€“ FDA. Common Ingredients in U.S. Licensed Vaccines, March 2018. Web. 12 Dec 2018.
Whitney, Cynthia et al. â€œBenefits from Immunization During the Vaccines for Children Program Era â€” United States, 1994â€“2013.â€ Weekly. 63.16 (2014): 352-355.
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