To vaccinate or to not vaccinate?
Prya Oliveira, Staff Writer
The decision to vaccinate children has been an argument since vaccinations were introduced. The recent 147 cases of measles that spread into Canada and Mexico from the outbreak in Disneyland, started the controversy all over again. Before the measles vaccine was created in 1963, almost everyone had the disease in their childhood, and an average of 440 children died from it annually. A two-year old child who is fully vaccinated can beat 14 diseases. There are many reasons why parents choose to not vaccinate their children, one being beliefs. In fact, many states allow the exemption of children not being vaccinated due to religious reasons, but the parents have to prove a “genuine and sincere religious belief.” Whether or not parents decide to vaccinate their children has the potential to affect the entire community.
The “Anti-Vaccination Movement,” (what people have been referring to as the decision to not vaccinate), has grown. Different studies have been conducted to understand why parents are against vaccinations, and 77 percent of parents have concerns about the medicine. These concerns can be separated into three categories: religious reasons, philosophical, or safety concerns.
The reports for rejecting vaccines for religious reasons increased from 2001 to 2011, with schools having to put in a mandate to have this exemption as long as parents could prove “genuine and sincere religious belief.” The reason why religion plays a part in the anti-vaccination movement is because it could violate people’s religious tenets. There are some ingredients in vaccinations that have gelatin from animals, going against some beliefs. Currently, there is research being conducted to create vaccines that are more acceptable to these religious groups.
The philosophical defense is an exemption only allowed by a few states. Some parents believe in natural immunity over vaccinations. Some also believe that their kids are not likely to get these rare diseases and assume that the negative side effects outweigh the positive effects. Others come to the conclusion that a healthy lifestyle will decrease the risk of their own children getting vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles. Another group of parents believe that if their kids did get infected with the disease, it would be easy to cure.
Some safety concerns that parents have come from the idea that they may not be well-informed. It is commonly reported that parents are getting information about vaccinations from media reports that highlight the rare negative reactions to certain vaccines. Parents will sometimes delay the vaccines, which can be viewed as better than not having vaccinations at all. Healthcare providers are trying to become more aware of the concerns of parents, attempting to better educate them on vaccinations in general.
Advocates for vaccines have studied what could happen if a parent does not vaccinate their child. Infant vaccinations prevent diseases like measles, which can lead to brain damage and death, and meningitis which can also lead to brain damage as well as permanent deafness. It is important to understand that there is no cure for diseases like mumps, polio, and measles, but they are all vaccine-preventable. Vaccines build the immune system by acting as the infection, but the fake infection doesn’t cause an illness. There are proteins in the vaccines called Antigens, which is a part of the germ that causes the immune system to respond. Parents who are afraid of overloading their infant’s immune system fail to understand that overloading with vaccinations does not happen when following vaccination schedules.
Delaying vaccinations may be considered better than not vaccinating at all; however, it increases the risk of febrile seizures that happen when a child has a high fever. When a parent refuses vaccines for their children, it also puts other children at risk for diseases. Especially when traveling to other countries, it is easy to contract airborne diseases and then bring them back home. The side effects are very minor and rare. The most common are swelling and redness. But, the U.S. has the safest vaccination supplies in the world, beginning with the approval from the FDA that ensures its safety and effectiveness. Even if there happen to be side effects, healthcare providers are trained to deal with that since the effects are usually caught in the trial period before the vaccine is even approved.
Because there are no laws requiring vaccinations of children, it is ultimately the parents’ decision on their willingness to do so or not. Parents do have the responsibility to be fully informed of these vaccines for the well-being of their child, but it is important to educate themselves on the theories that they may have found from the media.