It is no secret that America has become a great melting pot of people. With such diversity comes the question, how do we keep our children healthy and safe from illness? Many question the safety and benefits, or lack thereof, of childhood vaccinations. Are they truly safe? Are they necessary? The answer is YES! The benefits far outweigh the risks of vaccinating today’s youth. Childhood vaccinations should be mandatory to those able to receive them to keep our future generations healthy.
Vaccines are among the greatest, and most effective ways to prevent infectious diseases. And while it’s natural to want to understand the potential risks of vaccinations, it is also crucial in understanding the benefits. A parent will never realize know how many times their child will in contact with a vaccine-preventable disease or how many times their child will make use of their vaccine-induced immunity. Vaccinations are considered one of the greatest public health successes of the last century (Immunization).
The primary benefit of vaccinations is that it prevents disease. Incidence rates in the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases are at an all-time low. This low can be attributed directly to the invention of vaccines. While the diseases we vaccinate against have dropped, they have not been totally eradicated. This is why it must be mandatory that any able-bodied child should be vaccinated (Immunization).
Vaccines can spare a child’s life. In light of advances in medicinal science, children are now be able to be safeguarded against more diseases than any time in recent memory. A few infections that once harmed or murdered a large number of children, have been eradicated totally and others are near eradication, basically because of safe vaccines. Polio is one case of the incredible effect that vaccinations have had in the United States. While it was once one of the most dreaded illnesses, wreaking havoc across the country, there are no more instances of polio being reported in the US, all thanks to vaccines (Mandatory, 2015).
Vaccines saves lives and protects our future generations from disease. They protect the people we care about. Vaccines not only promote our bodies power to prevent and heal, they also protect those whose bodies are not able to prevent and heal themselves. When a child is vaccinated, they prevent disease from being spread to others. Individuals, children and adults, with weakened immune systems depend on the healthy population to get vaccinated to help keep the spread of disease low (Immunization).
Not only do vaccines save lives, they are also cost effective and can save families time and money. When a child becomes ill due to a preventable disease, it creates a costly impact on the family as a whole. It can mean absenteeism from school, costly doctor visits, being admitted into the hospital, and parents often having to miss work to take care of the sick child. Prevention should always be the first option in protecting children, because it is more cost effective than searching for a cure after the child has become ill. Most vaccines are covered by insurances and even low-income families now have affordable access to these life-saving vaccines (Mandatory, 2015).
Simply put, vaccines are safe. Since vaccines are administered to millions of children and adults every year, they are extensively tested before ever being allowed to be given to the public. Before a vaccine can pass inspection by the FDA, it is tested in labs around the world. All of the data collected is then is then used to determine if a vaccine is suitable enough to administered on a large scale. Once a vaccine is approved, the FDA starts to administer it to controlled groups of individuals to see what kinds of adverse reactions may occur.
By the time a vaccine is fully approved to be given to the public, it has already been tested on hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. Even after full approval is given, the FDA continues to test and re-test to make sure the potency and efficacy of the vaccine stays consistent (Ellenberg, Chen).
There are several large databases that help the FDA track and monitor vaccines once they are released to the public. The most advanced database is called VAERS or Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. This system is managed by the FDA and the CDC to monitor vaccines for signs of adverse reactions, safety issues, and such. VAERS helps the government determine which side effects are worth looking into and which side effects are just coincidence and are no relation to the vaccine itself (Ellenberg, Chen).
Now even with all of the testing and regulations that are put into place, there are many who still say that vaccines are not safe. One popular myth is that vaccines cause autism. This myth was brought about back in the early 1990’s when a doctor conducted a small study and published it in a well-known medical journal. This study involved only 12 children and he concluded that the vaccine known as MMR was directly linked to causing autism in children. Even though later on his finding were found to be fabricated and his conclusion to be false information, people still latched on to this idea and had fanned the fears of parents worldwide (Kaufman).
A lot of these fears come from parents trying to haphazardly educate themselves on the safety of vaccines, often leaning on the advice found in social media chat rooms, parental groups and other non-credible sources. More often than not, they end up being misinformed because they choose to believe what they hear and not what science has proven. And while every parent has a right to worry about the safety of their child, they also have to understand the risk of exposing other children and families to preventable diseases by not vaccinating their child. There is over 30 years of research conducted on whether or not vaccinations are linked to autism and the vast majority of the medical community says no, it is not (Kennedy, et al).
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