Childhood Vaccinations: The Reality Behind the Debate
Childhood Vaccinations Brandi DeLuca Bryant & Stratton College ENGL 101 Alexis Vaughan December 17, 2012 Childhood Vaccinations Child vaccinations have become a huge debate with new expectant parents as well as parents who already have children. Should children be vaccinated? A great majority of pediatricians believe that yes, children should be vaccinated. However, there are many groups that disagree with vaccines because they believe vaccines are doing more harm than good. If that is the case, should we vaccinate our children?
The choice to vaccinate our children is a choice every parent must make; there are many risks and side affects with every vaccine, but along with those risks comes the piece of mind knowing that our children are protected against a deadly disease. When a child is vaccinated, the child is administered with a vaccine that is specially made to protect them from a particular disease. The vaccine is created by using a small piece of a microbe that is dead or very weak (Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, 2012, para. 1). By using a very small amount, it eliminates the chance of the patient getting sick.
When the injection is administered, the small piece of microbe is introduced into the body’s bloodstream and into the immune system. When the two meet, the immune system creates an antibody that kills the microbe. Once that particular antibody is present within the body, it will always be on defense and ready to fight if that same microbe returns (Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, 2012, para. 1). The first vaccine in the world’s history to be created was the smallpox vaccine in the 1790s by a man named Edward Jenner (Stern & Markel, 2005, para, 1). Jenner was a country doctor who lived in Berkeley, England.
This is where Jenner administered the world’s first vaccination in 1796 (Stern & Markel, 2005, para, 6). The vaccination was created by taking pus from a cowpox lesion on a milkmaid’s hand. This vaccination was than tested on an eight-year-old named James Phipps. The child was unaffected by the vaccine and showed no signs or symptoms of smallpox. Jenner conducted twelve additional experiments all proving that vaccinations helped protect humans against infections. It took over eighteen years after Jenner created the smallpox vaccine for scientists to create new vaccines.
In the 1830s after an initial generation had been vaccinated, the United States and Europe saw a decline in smallpox (Stern & Markel, 2005, para, 23). Even with the success of the new vaccination, there were people known as antivaccinationists who believed vaccines were an invasion to their privacy and bodily integrity. This is where it began, the debate over vaccinations. During the hospital stay after delivering a baby, the mother will be asked if she would like her child to receive his or her first dose of the hepatitis B vaccination. Many new mothers without hesitation will agree to this vaccine.
It is being recommended by a medical professional, why would a parent question them? Yet, many parents do considering that one-third out of the four million babies born in the United States are not vaccinated by the age of two (Aesoph, n. d. , para. 1). Vaccinations are given to children of all ages to prevent or help fight certain possibly illnesses. All childhood vaccinations are given in a series of two or more doses. Depending on the child’s age, the dose and vaccine will vary. Most children should have completed the recommended vaccine schedule by the time they are six years old.
The vaccination schedule was designed to build a baby’s immune system from birth and develop as the child gets older. The first vaccination a newborn will receive is the hepatitis B vaccine, which they will typically get prior to leaving the maternity unit. The hepatitis B vaccine is given in three or four different injections over a six-month period (Department of Health and Human Services, n. d. , para. 2). The vaccine protects against hepatitis B, which is a contagious liver disease (Department of Health and Human Services, n. d. , para. 1). The hepatitis B vaccine is considered extremely safe and effective.
By the age of six years-old a child could have received as many as ten vaccinations (Department of Health and Human Services, n. d. , para. 1). These vaccines and the dose amount required are: two to three doses of Rotavirus (RV), four doses of Pneumococcal (PCV), three doses of Inactivated Poliovirus (IPV or Polio), four doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus, acellular Pertussis (DTaP), three to four doses of Haemophilus Influenzea (Hib), one dose of Measels, Mumps and Rubella (MMR), two doses of Hepatitis A (HepA), one dose of Meningococcal (MCV4), and one dose of Chickenpox (Varicella) (Department of Health and Human Services, n. . , para. 1). Once a child is older than six months, it is recommended that the child receive the influenza shot as well. Not immunizing children makes them vulnerable to contract a disease that is almost one hundred percent preventable such as rotavirus. The rotavirus vaccine protects children from gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the stomach and intestines. When a child contracts the rotavirus disease their symptoms include watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and in some cases, vomiting (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011, para. ). “Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide” (CDC, 2011, para. 1). Around the world, rotavirus is responsible for over half a million deaths a year for children under the age of five (CDC, 2011, para. ). I understand that in third world counrties vaccinations are not always available, but that is over five hundred thousand children who have lost their lives to a disease that a vaccination was created to prevent this exact same problem. People known as anti-vaccinationists say that vaccines do more harm than good.
How can that possible be said when over five hundred thousand lives could have been saved had they been vaccinated with the rotavirus vaccine? Association of American of Physicians & Surgeons said: Measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and the whole panoply of childhood diseases are a far less serious threat than having a large fraction (say 10%) of a generation afflicted with learning disability and/or uncontrollable aggressive behavior because of an impassioned crusade for universal vaccination…….
Public policy regarding vaccines is fundamentally flawed. It is permeated by conflicts of interest. It is based on poor scientific methodology (including studies that are too small, too short, and too limited in populations represented), which is, moreover, insulated from independent criticism. The evidence is far too poor to warrant overriding the independent judgments of patients, parents, and attending physicians, even if this were ethically or legally acceptable. (Vaccination Liberation, 2011, para. ) A doctor by the name of Richard Moskowitz was a pediatrician who after ten years of immunizing children could no longer bring himself to immunize children, even if the parents requested the vaccine (Vaccination Risk Awareness Network, 2012, para. 1). Richard Moskowitz wrote an article that was published in a journal in March of 1983. In the article that he wrote, he believed that by ridding the world of microbial species it would disrupt the balance of nature in ways no one would ever imagine.
He also believed that vaccines were being created simply for the fact that the equipment is there to produce those vaccines and to show that we can manipulate the evolutionary process (Vaccination Risk Awareness Network, 2012, para. 2). When a vaccine is introduced to the body, foreign proteins or possibly live viruses are released into the bloodstream. Moskowitz believed by just that fact alone, the public is entitled to solid proof that vaccinations are safe and fully effective.
If children are going to be injected with live viruses in hopes that it will someday protect them from that very same disease, proof that these vaccines pose no harm to the children needs to be presented in a very strong way. Richard Moskowitz said: Most people can readily accept the fact that at times certain laws are necessary for the public good that some of us strongly disagree with, but the issue in this case involves the wholesale introduction of foreign proteins or even live viruses into the bloodstream of entire populations. For that reason alone, the public is surely entitled to convincing proof, eyond any reasonable doubt, that artificial immunization is in fact a safe and effective procedure in no way injurious to health, and that the threat of the corresponding natural disease remains sufficiently clear and urgent to warrant vaccinating everyone, even against their will if necessary. (Vaccination Risk Awareness Network, 2012, para. 2) The choice to vaccinate a child is completely up to the parents. When making the decision there are two sides of the argument to look at. The parent must know all of the pros and cons to both sides of the argument before being able to make an educated decision.
What the parent should know is that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all vaccines currently in the market to make sure they are safe and effective. Prior to the vaccine being FDA approved, there are many tests that the vaccine must go through before being accepted. The FDA’s Center for Biological Evaluation and Research (CBER) is the department that is responsible for monitoring all vaccines in the United States (U. S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA], 2009, para. 1). The vaccines go through three clinical trials, all of which include human studies (FDA, 2009, para. 3).
Once the vaccine has been accepted, the FDA will work side by side with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (FDA, 2009, para. 1). The FDA does this by monitoring side effects that a patient or parent may report to their pediatrician after a vaccination has been administered. From my personal experience as a mother to children who have been vaccinated, the most common side effect from a vaccine is a high fever that typically goes away approximately twenty-four hours after the initial injection. The FDA reports that since the beginning of vaccines, many infectious diseases have been eliminated or are now rare (FDA, 2012, para. ). Take rubella for example. In 1964 to 1965 before the rubella vaccine was considered a routine vaccine in the United States, there was an epidemic of rubella (FDA, 2012, para. 2). An estimated 20,000 newborn babies were born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) along with the 2,100 that died shortly after birth and 11,250 miscarriages (FDA, 2012, para. 10). CRS is an infection that a fetus can contract during the first trimester while inside the womb of an infected mother (Boston Children’s Hospital, 2011, para. 2).
Babies born with CRS can develop heart defects, mental retardation and deafness (FDA, 2012, para. 12). The FDA reported that “Of the 20,000 infants born with CRS, 11,600 were deaf, 3,580 were blind, and 1,800 were mentally retarded. ” (FDA, 2012, para. 10). In 2010, only six cases of CRS were reported (FDA, 2012, para. 10). If the rubella vaccine was for some reason stopped, rubella would return resulting in pregnant women becoming infected and babies would possibly be born with CRS (FDA, 2012, para, 10). Deciding whether or not to have a child vaccinated is completely up to the parent.
There are no federal laws that require parents to have their children vaccinated. However, all fifty states require children to have certain vaccinations if the parent wants them to attend a public school. These vaccinations must be completed prior to the child being accepted to the school. Some may see this as the government controlling the vaccination policy and forcing parents to vaccinate their children against their own will. Most parents choose to send their children to school to obtain an education because they believe it is a beneficial choice for their children’s future.
If a parent wants this, they must vaccinate the child or they simply are not allowed to attend school. Think about how many children attend a public school on a daily basis and all of the germs that are spread and the viruses that are passed from one child to another. Now think about if those children were not vaccinated and the amount of illnesses that a parent would have to worry about. It would no longer be a simple cold or a case of the flu; it could be rubella, hepatitis B, or even polio.
By children being required to have certain vaccinations prior to attending school, can people really say that it is the government forcing us to immunize our children or are they really looking out for the best interest of the children? Of all the many debates surrounding childhood vaccines, autism is the one that most people associate with vaccinations. Autism, which is official called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental disability caused by a neurological disorder that affects the way an autistic child sees and interacts with the world around them (“What Is Autism? , 2005, para. 1). The controversy started in 1998 when a study conducted by Andrew Wakefield was published in a British journal called The Lancet (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012, para. 2). In his studies, he stated that the expected amount of children diagnosed with autism in California should have been around one hundred five to two hundred sixty-three cases, according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Diseases (Wakefield, 1999, para. 4). The actual amount of children diagnosed was one thousand six hundred eight-five cases (Wakefield, 1999, para. 4).
Wakefield backed his accusations with proof of examinations from twelve children, all of which had regressive autism (Katz, 2011, para. 4). All twelve children were developing within normal range until symptoms of autistic behavior appeared shortly after receiving their first dose of the MMR vaccine. He claims that there is a link that the MMR vaccine is the possible cause of autism. In the study he conducted there were two test vaccine groups. One group received the MMR vaccine and the other group received any measles-containing vaccine (Wakefield, 1999, para. ). The study group that received the MMR vaccine was reported by the parents to have temporal clustering (Wakefield, 1999, para. 3). This led Wakefield to the conclusion that the MMR vaccine was the possible cause of autism. After the article was published there was a huge decline in children being immunized. Parents believed that the study was accurate and refused to have their children vaccinated resulting in multiple cases of the measles to appear in emergency rooms around America.
Once word got around about the article, parents started to associate their child’s autistic behavior with the MMR vaccine. The first MMR vaccine is administered around twelve to fifteen months; the signs of autistic behavior typically appear around fifteen to eighteen months of age (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012, para. 2). This is what led many parents to filing lawsuits claiming the MMR vaccine caused their child to develop autism. Almost all suits at the time were thrown out due to lack of evidence.
During an investigation into Wakefield’s accusation of the MMR vaccine being the root cause of autism, researchers tried to replicate Wakefield’s findings but were unable to come up with the same results. An investigation led by a journalist named Brian Deer who worked for British Medical Journal found that five of the twelve children in Wakefield’s study had shown signs of autism prior to even receiving the MMR vaccination (Katz, 2011, para. 5). Once this information was known, more information came out making it look as if the Wakefield study was fraudulent in effort to make money.
The investigation by Deer reported that Wakefield’s autism theory was released after Wakefield had been hired by a law firm who was preparing to file a suit against vaccine makers. The British Medical Journal reported that Wakefield was paid approximately five thousand dollars to publish a fraudulent study (Katz, 2011, para. 7). Wakefield has since denied all accusations and still stands by his study that the MMR vaccine is directly related to children being diagnosed with autism.
Although the Wakefield study has been recanted by almost every magazine or journal that published the article, there are still parents who stand behind Wakefield saying that his study was accurate and believe that the MMR vaccine is the main cause for their child being autistic. Autism affects one out of every eighty-eight children in the United States and is four out of five times more common in boys than in girls (Autism Speaks Inc. , 2012, para. 1). In recent years, children being diagnosed with autism has went from ten percent up to seventeen percent (Autism Speaks Inc. 2012, para. 5). There is no clear explanation as to why more children are being diagnosed other than research has improved and there is now more awareness surrounding autism. Some could speculate that the world population continues to raise everyday meaning there are more children being vaccinated. With more children being vaccinated, more children are being diagnosed with autism. On the other hand, it could be just a coincidence and the nationwide awareness surrounding autism has made parents and pediatricians more likely to take suspicion to autistic like behavior and symptoms.
Regardless the reason for more children being diagnosed, autism is a serious disorder that affects many children and even adults that struggle on the daily basis to cope with symptoms of autism. After many hours of research on childhood vaccinations and the possible effects that they may have on our children, I am going to carefully monitor the research being done on vaccines. In a world where diseases and illnesses surround us, it is very important to me to know that my children are protected from these possibly deadly diseases. In all of my research that I id, I never came across any real concrete evidence that any childhood vaccination that is currently on the market is directly related to any serious health concerns. Yes, after receiving a vaccination a child may experience a slight fever or may seem more sleepy than normal; however, I believe these symptoms are nothing compared to what could be if the child was never vaccinated. Prior to a child receiving a vaccination, the vaccine must undergo many hours of research and clinical studies to ensure that it is safe and poses no medical health concern.
The government does not have any federal laws mandating that a child be vaccinated; they do, however, strongly suggest that all children receive the proper vaccines in the suggested time frame in the vaccine schedule created by the CDC to ensure that the vaccine is fully effective in protecting children from any serious illnesses. Every parent has the right to choose whether or not to have their child vaccinated; prior to making this decision it is very important to go over the pros and cons to ensure that they are making an educational decision in their children’s future. References Aesoph, L.
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