Since 1796 when Edward Jenner invented the first ever vaccine (for smallpox), vaccines have continued to progress and become more advanced throughout the years. When Jenner invented his vaccine he used the arm-to-arm inoculations, which means he would take material from a blister from somebody who was infected with cowpox and then inject it into another person’s skin. Although nowadays the process of making vaccines is more complicated and has a better chance at working (Offit, 2014) We have many methods of making vaccines, sometimes we inactivate (kill) the disease/virus with a chemical.
By killing the virus, it cannot reproduce itself or cause the disease. Vaccines for polio, hepatitis A, and influenza are made this way. Since the virus is still “seen” by the body’s cells, the immune system’s cells are generated to protect us against the disease. However, the limitation of this process is that it typically requires many doses to achieve immunity. Another way we make vaccines is by using a part of the virus. Using this strategy you remove one part of the virus and then use it as a vaccine. The hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are made this way. The vaccine is made of a protein that is on the surface of the virus (Offit, 2014).
Slowly but surely diseases are becoming rare due to vaccinations. Of course, they are becoming rare because we have been vaccinating against them for so long. With one disease, smallpox, we “stopped the leak” in the ship by stopping the disease. Vaccines protect you and others around you (“Vaccines: Vac-Gen/Why Immunize?”, 2017). If your vaccinated immune system stops an illness before it starts, you will be contagious for only a short amount of time, or not at all. Similarly, when other people are vaccinated, they are less likely to give you the disease. Vaccines protect individuals and entire communities. If a large number of people within a community top vaccinating diseases can reappear. For example, in 1989, low vaccination rates allowed a measles outbreak to happen in the United States. This outbreak caused more than 55,000 cases of measles and 136 deaths (“Vaccine Benefits | NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases”, 2018).
There is a wide variety of vaccine complications, which have been found and acknowledged in the medical literature and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Academy of sciences. Including Brain Inflammation, Anaphylaxis (acute allergic reaction), Guillain Barre Syndrome (respiratory infection), Thrombocytopenia (platelet deficiency in the blood), etc. all of these after effects after having a vaccine shot has caused people to have a state of mind that vaccines are dangerous and should not be trusted. Vaccines may provide temporary immunity but sometimes to fails to provide others with even short-term protection (“Vaccinations?”, n.d.).
With some people not getting their vaccines, we still face the issue of potentially being exposed to harmful diseases. It’s understandable that some new parents get overwhelmed with how many shots their infants must undergo, and the schedule for which children need to get their vaccines is a bit much, but all of it is for the betterment of our world’s future. There are some reasonable reasons as to why you cannot get a vaccine; Being either for a religious reason, personal beliefs, safety concerns, or the desire to know more information before you decide to get the shot. While doctors may take an oath to help anybody who is ill, they still need to be concerned for everybody else in their department, both patients and colleagues (“..Need to Know about Immunizations”, 2017).
Doctors face this struggle the most when it comes to an outbreak of an eradicated disease. For example, in December 2014 there was a resurgence of measles that was traced in Disneyland. This resulted in over 147 people in the U.S. and 159 people in Quebec, Canada to become extremely sick. Whilst the disease was said to be done in April 2016, the surge of cases was most likely due to not being vaccinated against measles. This outbreak and another that occurred in Palatine, Illinois, caused Doctors to revisit their family accommodations and decide to only treat the families who have a sufficient amount of vaccinations, according to The Chicago Tribune (“..Need to Know about Immunizations”, 2017)
It’s a known fact that nowadays you must be vaccinated before going to school. It being made a law in the 1850s, in Massachusetts; At the time there was an outbreak of measles and they decided that to protect the public health they will make a law stating that the child must have a measles vaccine or they cannot attend school. By the beginning of the twentieth century, more than half of the states required you to be immunized before being able to go to school. By 1963, 20 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia had such laws. It took a lot of effort to eradicate measles, a big problem being that most of the transmissions were happening between children at their school. In the early 1970s, states that had a law regarding vaccines had a much lower rate of which people were getting infected (40% – 51%) than the ones who didn’t have any laws about vaccines (Malone and Hinman, n.d.)
There are also religious beliefs about vaccines. The common perception of religion and getting vaccines is that they believe that it is bad and will stop their connection to god. In reality, many religions believe in vaccines and believe that they are a fundamental part of our society. For example, Hinduism, Hindus advocate for a respect for life and thus support the advancement in technology that allows people to live longer and healthier. None of the four major sections of Hinduism have ever stated a concern regarding vaccines. Even though Hindus venerate cows, meaning they do not eat beef, they still do not oppose vaccines that have been manufactured from bovine components (Cow components are often used simply because cows are very large animals, thus having a lot of material to use). Another example is the Christian Scientists, fundamentally they believe that diseases are not real, and can be healed with focused prayer. Ironically, Christian Scientists do not have any rules against vaccines, but it is still recommended that you pray to rid of all the bad components that are in the vaccine. Though their “medical practitioners” lack knowledge of the many vaccines used to prevent diseases, meaning that a disease could very easily spread through one of their communities. Whenever that may happen, the church accepts vaccinations (“What religions actually..”, January 17).
An example of a religion that does not condone vaccines is the Dutch Reformed Church. The members of this church have been refusing vaccines since the early years of them (late 1700’s and early 1800’s). A big reason as to why they refuse vaccines is because of the observed adverse events with the vaccines of the era, today it has evolved into a formal belief that it will interfere with their relationship with God. Due to this refusal, it has caused many problems in the community. From paralytic poliomyelitis (A virus that may cause paralysis and is easily preventable by the polio vaccine), to mump outbreaks. In 2013, there was a very bad measles outbreak that hit a Dutch Reformed community in the Netherlands. In the end there were over 1,126 reported cases, of those 1,126 cases, 176 (14.4%) had complications including encephalitis (1 case), pneumonia (90 cases), otitis media (66 cases), and 82 (6.7%) were admitted to the hospital (“What religions actually..”, January 17).
In 1986 the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was passed due to a large number of lawsuits claiming that vaccines were causing reactions including brain damage and death. The act helped protect medical professionals and vaccine manufacturers from liability if somebody suffered injury from receiving a vaccine(s). It required that injury from vaccines must be filed with the US Court of Federal Claims and not filed directly against the physicians or manufacturers in civil court. On October 1, 1988, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. The VICP was created to make sure there were enough vaccines, the price for vaccines were stable, and to establish and maintain an accessible and thorough for people found to be injured by a vaccine(s) (“Background of the Issue – Vaccines – ProCon.org”, 2016).
A major issue in the medical world is that many Developing Countries have yet to be introduced to many different types of Vaccines. As you may know, the development and introductions of new vaccines is a very expensive and time-consuming process. Unfortunately, those who are most in need, are the last to receive these disease-preventing products. From when a vaccine is first licensed in a developed country to when most of the poor in developing countries have access to said vaccine can be 20-30 years (Mahoney, Wen and Wilde, 2000). This is unacceptable, allowing for this to continue can cause a big problem. Diseases such as Malaria, Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), and Tuberculosis are what are majorly affecting developing countries. We have vaccines for these diseases yet the people (from developing countries) have little to no ways to acquire them. With the mix of malnutrition, lack of certain vitamins, and living in an environment where bacteria thrives the thought of them not having the funds and resources to obtain these “miracle elixirs” is deplorable (Unicef.org, n.d.).
With the future on its way, scientists are working hard on inventing new vaccines for diseases that have yet been able to be prevented and or cured. For example, with the accelerating cost of caring for an ageing population, where conditions like dementia are becoming more common in older people, has added a new gateway to the way we search for new vaccines. Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common neurodegenerative disorder in developed countries, has been in the spotlight and has caused massive efforts to create therapeutic vaccines. The number one target has been (in the brain). Another protein, which is called “tau”, is also receiving attention with its role in dementia but producing a vaccine for a disease that is associated with the build-up of proteins is very complex (Finnegan, 2010).
Another vaccine that scientists are working on is for cancer. With the help of HPV vaccines bringing new light into the hunt for cancer vaccines, which is leading to increased investment and renewed public expectations. The vaccines that we have now protect us against two types of virus which cause 70% of cervical cancers. It’s not the only cancer vaccine available. The Hepatitis B vaccine lowers the risk of liver cancer. In the past, plenty of vaccines have been denied but vaccines for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and brain tumors continue to look promising. A vaccine for prostate cancer has just recently been accepted and reviewed by regulators in the US (Finnegan, 2010).
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