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The Vaccination Debate: Pros and Cons of Vaccinations

You may have noticed lately the topic of routine childhood vaccines once again gaining a lot of media attention. Most parents of this generation never had to experience what life was like before vaccines were used. Public health officials credit the mandating of mass vaccination to the almost extinct instances of the communicable disease vaccines help prevent. So why are routine vaccinations such a hot parenting debate? It would be nearly impossible to include all the information available on vaccines in one article. The following content will cover the basics of the vaccine debate.

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All of the major health organizations currently recommend that infants and children be vaccinated against 14 communicable diseases. For children who fall into a high risk category, there are even more vaccines available. What this means is, starting at birth; most children will receive about 29 vaccines by the age of 6. By the age of 2, most children will receive approximately 24.1

In the United States, most states have enacted laws that require proof of certain inoculations before allowing a child to enter a daycare or school. Each state is also different with laws regarding exemptions. Most exemptions are limited to medical, religious or personal objections. Some states allow parents to give no reason at all.

Since mass inoculation regulations have been initiated-most, if not all of the communicable diseases children are vaccinated against are unheard of.

As previously stated, most people today have never had to deal with the diseases vaccines help prevent. In developed countries, most vaccines are readily available and used at low cost. Most low income families qualify for some form of low income insurance programs which cover vaccines. In countries where this is not the case, these diseases are currently a problem. Children and adults are dying everyday from diseases that can be prevented from vaccines. These countries just do not have the finances or access to the medical care.

Some believe the rise in philosophical objections to routine childhood vaccinations could be blamed on internet access. There are currently thousands of websites readily available to anyone who reads them-most of whom have no medical understanding. These websites induce fear and alarm within parents.

The basic instinct as a parent is “do not harm.” Many parents fear that allowing their child to be vaccinated can and or will cause harm.

There is one undisputed fact regarding vaccines. Vaccines are drugs and no drug available on earth is considered 100% safe.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and more specifically The Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) regulate vaccine products. All vaccines must undergo lengthy testing for safety and effectiveness before they can be licensed for distribution. Even after a vaccine gains approval, it remains under investigation for continued public safety and effectiveness.

To help monitor the safety of vaccines after distribution, the United States government relies on VAERS or Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. VAERS is a website available to the public.2 According to the VAERS website, anyone can report adverse reactions. Most VAERS reports are sent in by manufactures of the vaccines and health care providers. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) requires healthcare providers to report any event listed by the vaccine manufacturer as a reason to forego subsequent doses of a vaccine or an event listed on the Reportable Events Table. It is unknown at this time what the punishment is for failure to comply with NCVIA.

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© Rebecca Pillar 2008


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