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Pros and Cons - Should Children Be Vaccinated?

Essay by   •  June 5, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,851 Words (8 Pages)  •  3,988 Views

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With every major social problem there comes a great deal of debate. Almost every significant controversial issue has staunch supporters on each side with vastly differing points of view. These two opposing arguments generally have experts, statistics, claims, grounds and much more in order to help prove that their views are not only valid, but the only acceptable answer to the problem. Due to the fact that each side is so preoccupied with proving their point, in most cases, the reasoning on the given issue tends to go adrift. Whether or not vaccines should be required for young children is one such currently debated issue with acutely differing points of view. The true issue in this debate about childhood vaccines has become lost due to the contrasting perspectives involved on each side of the argument. Although both those opposed to mandatory vaccinations and supporters of mandatory vaccinations have a number of valid points as to why their position is correct, logical reasoning has gone adrift and the only real solution lies somewhere in the middle.

On one side of the debate there is a group of immunization supporters that believe vaccines should be mandatory for all children at an early age. These proponents argue that, regardless of philosophical, religious, or moral views, no individual should have the ability to jeopardize the overall health of society. In their opinion, the government should be able to require the vaccination of children regardless of a parents' personal opinion. This group believes that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the drawbacks and has formulated many claims in order to prove their point.

One such point proposed by this group is that vaccines not only prevent illnesses and eradicate disease, but also, ultimately, save lives. It has been stated by experts on the subject that most childhood vaccinations are around 90-99% effective in preventing disease (Zhou, 2003). In the rare event that a child does contract a disease after he/she has been vaccinated, he/she generally will have less serious complications and milder symptoms than an unvaccinated child with the same disease. On top of this, according to experts at the Pediatric Academic Society, around 10.5 million cases of infectious illness and 33,000 deaths per year are prevented by vaccinations (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010). Also, vaccines have even led to the elimination of diseases, such as smallpox and polio, which once endangered and even caused death among children. The fact that many lives are saved and diseases are prevented greatly helps to support the argument that mandatory immunizations are good for society.

Advocates of vaccines also believe that if we stop immunizing children, outbreaks of certain diseases could occur. Even when particular diseases seem to no longer exist in our society, proponents of childhood vaccinations argue that immunizations are necessary. They argue that these diseases may reemerge and possibly become more widespread than before (Allen, 2002). A cited example used by immunization supporters is that when many residents of Boulder, CO decided not to vaccinate children for the whooping cough due to fear of possible side effects, a new and dangerous strain of the virus reemerged. This led to a large percentage of children contracting this illness in 2002 (Arthur, 2002).

Proponents of childhood immunization have also made the argument that vaccines produce significant economic benefits for society. It has been stated by proponents of vaccinating children, that "every $1 spent on vaccination saves the public $6.30 in medical costs that would result from having to treat unvaccinated diseased individuals," (Every Child By Two, 2010). While this idea may be considered somewhat irrelevant, due to the fact that there should be no monetary considerations when dealing with health, various claims makers have made this argument and therefore it is necessary that it be addressed.

In complete opposition to this view, adversaries of vaccinating children believe that the government shouldn't have the ability to involve itself in the health decisions parents make for their children. According to a 2010 poll conducted at the University of Michigan, 31% of parents believe that they should have the ability to say "no" to the mandatory school entry vaccinations placed on their children (Freed, 2009). While it may seem as though there are many reasons why vaccinating children should be mandatory, there is also a large group that is opposed to this point of view with their own compelling reasons as to why young children should not be subjected to the perils associated with childhood immunization.

One reason that immunization adversaries are so strongly opposed to immunizing children is that many parents have strong religious beliefs that are against vaccinations. Forcing these parents to vaccinate their children would violate their 1st Amendment rights, which gives citizens the right to practice their religion freely. Also, many people in this group believe that vaccines go against natural law and God's ultimate plan for humanity. These people believe that disease is natural and human beings have no right to obstruct its course.

Those opposed to mandatory vaccinations have also argued that vaccines aren't necessary in places where the threat of death from disease is minimal. While death rates from childhood diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, may have been high prior to the nineteenth century, as living conditions improved, these rates began to fall without the use of vaccines (Institute For Health Freedom, 1999). Because living conditions in the United States are so good, the chance of a child contracting and dying from one of these diseases are

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