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Vaccinations in Children: Pros and Cons

Thesis: Some experts argue that vaccinations may lead to increased cases of autism for some children, while others do not believe that vaccinations have any real impact on this condition.

Introduction: In today’s society, there are many obstacles to consider in promoting their health and wellbeing of children. With the continuous focus on improvements to reduce health concerns, it is important for children to be provided with the best possible solutions to be as healthy as possible. One area of debate in recent years is vaccinations and whether or not they are appropriate for children since there are many factors that may be attributed to vaccinations, such as the rise in autism cases over the past decades, as well as other conditions, such as pertussis. It is important to consider the following: 1) autism is attributed to other conditions and environmental circumstances; 2) vaccinations should not be ignored based upon the false belief that they may contribute to autism because these vaccinations provide other positive preventative benefits to children; and 3) vaccinations must continue to be administered in order to reduce the severity of childhood diseases, such as chicken pox and the measles.

Main Point 1: Relationship of vaccinations and autism: it is very difficult to prove that autism has a direct connection to the administration of vaccinations.

Sub Point 1: Although vaccinations are a family choice made by parents or guardians to promote the best interests of their children, some experts argue that vaccinations should not be administered due to the risks associated with possible autism development in children.

Main Point 2: Risks of not being vaccinated: If vaccinations are not administered, then it is possible that children will experience a number of risks of exposure to other conditions, such as pertussis (Haller and Scalzo, 2012). For many physicians, there is no choice but to vaccinate children to reduce the risks associated with childhood illnesses that could otherwise be prevented, even if there is a risk associated with the vaccination process (Haller and Scalzo, 2012).

Sub Point 2: It is important to take the steps that are necessary to ease the fears of parents and their hesitancy to allow their children to be vaccinated because these efforts are essential to child health and wellbeing (Haller and Scalzo, 2012).

Main Point 3: Vaccinations and socioeconomic conditions: The choice to vaccinate is based upon socioeconomic factors in some communities and that some parents do not have insurance to cover the cost of vaccinations (Temoka, 2013). There are varying statistics that demonstrate how different population groups are impacted by lack of vaccinations and must be addressed in federal and state objectives for children (Temoka, 2013).

Sub Point 3: Refusal of vaccinations: “Parents are increasingly refusing to vaccinate their children, deliberately delaying vaccination or using alternative immunization schedules. They are also more boldly questioning the safety of vaccines; some consider vaccines to be the culprits for autism and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); others are convinced that their children are more likely to acquire infectious diseases if they get vaccinated (Temoka, 2013, p. 69). It is often difficult to convince parents that vaccinations are the best alternative to promote greater health and wellbeing for their children; therefore, their minds must be changed through the efforts made by physicians to promote vaccinations as much as possible.

Main Point 4: Vaccinations should not be ignored: Vaccinations are an integral component of child health and wellbeing; therefore, they should be pursued and not ignored due to false beliefs regarding their role in the development of autism and other conditions. Many of the beliefs regarding vaccinations have not been proven and should not be used to promote the failure of vaccinations from taking place for these populations.

Sub Point 4A: Autism and Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine: It is suspected that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is the primary contributor in cases which involve autism; therefore, many parents are hesitant to obtain these vaccinations for this reason (Gerber and Offit, 2009). To date, “A worldwide increase in the rate of autism diagnoses—likely driven by broadened diagnostic criteria and increased awareness—has fueled concerns that an environmental exposure like vaccines might cause autism. Theories for this putative association have centered on the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, thimerosal, and the large number of vaccines currently administered. However, both epidemiological and biological studies fail to support these claims” (Gerber and Offit, 2009, p. 456).

Sub Point 4B: There is no scientific evidence in place that supports the link between vaccinations and autism (Gerber and Offit, 2009). On the contrary, vaccinations promote the prevention of other conditions that may cause problems for many children, such as pertussis, which may lead to significant challenges for children who have this condition. It is expected that the promotion of vaccinations for their positive benefits will outweigh any negative benefits that are considered but not proven in scientific studies to date.

Main Point 5: Vaccinations help to prevent childhood diseases: Vaccinations offer children many positive benefits and reduce the severity of common childhood diseases, such as chicken pox, mumps, and measles. It is important to recognize that there are significant benefits associated with vaccinations, in spite of the minimal risks that are observed.

Sub Point 5: Parental trust: It is important for parents to trust in the expert knowledge of their physicians in order to effectively provide their children with the tests that are necessary to promote the health and wellbeing of their children and to recognize the benefits of these conditions rather than to ignore them and take unnecessary risks by failing to vaccinate these children. It is important to address the challenges that are associated with vaccinations from a parental point of view in order to capture a greater understanding of their benefits and their contributions to the health and wellbeing of most children who might be at a greater risk of different childhood diseases, such as chicken pox, mumps, and pertussis, amongst others. The benefits of vaccinations outweigh the risks and since there is no proven scientific connection between vaccinations and autism, this concept should not be part of the decision-making process for parents with young children.

Conclusion: Vaccinations have been in existence for many years and have led to a dramatic decrease in the severity and length of many childhood illnesses, such as the chicken pox, mumps, measles, and other conditions. However, many parents make the decision not to vaccinate their children due to preconceived beliefs regarding the negative impact of vaccines, such as the risks associated with autism. Many parents believe that autism has a direct relationship to vaccinations and therefore, will not take those risks with their children. It is important to develop a strategy in communities to acquire the knowledge of clinical experts so that parents are aware of the benefits of vaccinations and that there is no proven scientific correlation to date regarding the risk of autism associated with vaccinations. This issue weighs heavily on the minds of many parents and contributes to the lack of support by many parents in favor of having their children vaccinated. In contrast, the refusal to vaccinate may exacerbate common childhood illnesses and may lead to unexpected conditions, such as pertussis, which may have serious complications. Therefore, it is necessary to develop strategic approaches in communities so that parents are aware of the reality regarding vaccinations and how they benefited during their own childhood years. This reflects a capacity to develop a greater understanding of vaccinations and their overall impact on general health and wellbeing for young children who have not yet developed the immunity that is necessary to fight against many childhood illnesses in an effective manner to reduce these risks.

 

References

Gerber, J.S., and Offit, P.A. (2009). Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses.              Clinical Infectious Diseases, 48(4), 456-461.

Haller, K., and Scalzo, A. (2012). “I’ve heard some things that scare me.” Responding with                   empathy to parents’ fears of vaccinations. Missouri Medicine, 109(1), 10-18.

Temoka, E. (2013). Chapter 10: Becoming a vaccine champion: evidence-based interventions to

address           the challenges of vaccination. South Dakota Medicine, retrieved from

https://www.sdsma.org/pdfs/10%20-%20Becoming%20a%20Vaccine%20Champion%20-%20Temoka.pdf