Vaccination Debate

There are serious questions and controversy concerning vaccines. Some argue that immune systems of children can deal with infections naturally, without any help. Others claim that vaccination is the only way to prevent the spread of deadly problems. Some claim vaccinations are perfectly safe, while others say they definitely are not. Before your child gets the shots that protect them from different diseases, it pays to understand the vaccination debate and make an informed decision.

The Vaccination Debate

All states require vaccinations for children unless there are significant reasons for exception. But should they be required? Here are some of the basic pros and cons of the vaccination debate.

Are Vaccines Necessary?

Pro: Mandatory vaccination has been in place for many years, and it has stopped thousands of deaths from diseases such as smallpox and polio. Without vaccines, these diseases would run rampant through our society, putting millions at risk. In fact, childhood vaccinations prevent about 10.5 million cases of illness per year, and save 33,000 lives.

Con: The risk of being infected by certain diseases is very small. In fact, before mandatory vaccinations became common, the risk of infection was already dropping dramatically. This is thanks to increased hygiene measures, water purification, better disposal of wastes, and better nutrition. Today, the threat is much less than it was during the early 19th century.

The Bottom Line

Significant diseases do still exist in the world today, and these can be very serious for those unfortunate enough to contract them. It is also important to keep in mind that while the risk of a disease like polio or mumps is extremely low in the United States, in other countries they are still common – and those other countries are only a short plane ride away.

Are Vaccines Safe?

Pro: Vaccines are studied intensely and put through enormous amounts of research. Many scientists believe they are entirely safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of determining the safety and effectiveness of any vaccine, and once they deem it proper for use, they monitor the production every step of the way to ensure no contamination.

Con: Vaccines can cause side effects, but these usually go away within a few days. These side effects often include a lack of appetite, a slight fever, dizziness, and fatigue. Sometimes allergic reaction or seizures happen, but these are exceedingly rare.

The Bottom Line

Vaccine-related injuries are astonishingly low, and the dangers of the diseases are much higher. The cons of taking the vaccine are much less than the pros of avoiding a disease.

Should Vaccines Be Mandatory for Children?

Pro: Vaccines should be required for children, as they are one of the most vulnerable populations. Experts believe that vaccinations should be given regardless of moral, philosophical or religious beliefs of the parents.

Con: Many parents believe that no government has the right to tell them how to raise their children, including making them give their child vaccines. Ignoring freedom to choose under the tenets of their religion also violates the first amendment right to free exercise of religion.

The Bottom Line

In order to truly protect everyone, between 75 and 94 percent of the population (depending upon the vaccine) must be vaccinated.

Want to learn more? Here’s more on the vaccination debate:

Other Questions about Vaccination

Many parents have other questions about vaccination. Here are a few of the answers:

Isn’t Boosting the Immune System a Better Choice than Vaccination?

It makes sense to believe this, but one must also take into account the additional problems that come along with infection. Once someone is infected with mumps, for instance, it can lead to deafness or infertility. A natural polio infection could leave someone permanently paralyzed. Brain damage can result from many diseases that could be fought off with vaccinations. Therefore, it pays to make sure your child never gets the disease in the first place.

Is Vaccination a Cause of Autism?

Years ago, a study linked vaccinations to autism among young children. However, that report was later retracted as being inaccurate on many levels. Today, there is no evidence that autism and vaccinations are related in any way.

Why Should My Child Receive Vaccines So Early?

A young child is at greatest risk for contracting an infection and not being able to overcome it. Serious injury or death could result. Experts recommend giving vaccinations as soon as a child is old enough – which in most cases is just a few days after birth.

Should Vaccine Shots Be Spaced Apart?

The child’s immune system can easily handle vaccines, and that’s why it’s okay to give them several shots on the same day. In fact, there is no evidence that spreading the shots out reduces the side effects, but it does make it more difficult to get all the shots needed as early as possible.

Are There Any Exemptions from Vaccines?

There are some children who should not receive vaccines. This includes a child who has had an organ transplant, has HIV, or otherwise has a compromised immune system—such as a child who is undergoing chemotherapy treatments.In most of these cases, a “dead” vaccine is okay, but a “live” vaccine is not.  In some cases, premature children are put on a slower-than-usual vaccination schedule.

Also, keep in mind that if your child suffers from an allergy to eggs, there are some immunizations that they will not be able to take. That’s because some vaccines are created with egg whites, which could lead to an allergic reaction in your child. However, this problem is only in a very small percentage of children.