Friday, February 15, 2013

Vaccinations- Beneficial or Unnecessary

The video was about the ongoing controversy about the importance of vaccinations. Many people, mainly parents, are apprehensive about vaccinations and are also concerned that they may cause diseases and are actually more harmful than they are helpful. There are advocates and health care professionals who push the idea that vaccines are one of the best conventions of the modern world. They marvel at the idea and the ability to prevent diseases and epidemics that were once commonplace. On the other hand, there are people who view vaccinations as a threat. The public has become concerned with the side effects of these vaccines. One proposed side effect is Autism. There were many cases of parents who claimed that the MMR shot caused their children to regress and become Autistic. The health community argues that there was no evidence to support this claim, and yet people still believe it.  Older physicians know firsthand about the diseases that modern medicine has cured and think that the younger generations don’t appreciate these advances in medicine because they have not lived to experience them, nor do they know how quickly these diseases can spread.
Personally, I have never thought that vaccinations were harmful. I’ve always thought that the benefits outweighed the hazards. There were times when the thought might have come up that, “what if this shot will actually do me more harm than good?” I understand how parents can be concerned about the side effects of the vaccines, but I also think that they should keep in mind that the physicians and other health care professionals have the public’s best interest in mind. These people may also have children, so they have two reasons to try and fight these diseases that have caused epidemics in the past.
Herd Immunity is the notion that the more people in an area that have been vaccinated and therefore immune to a disease in a community, the less likely an outbreak will occur and spread in the case that there is an infectious person. This is directly related to the public health notion of vaccinations because the only way to get a community of immune people is for those people to actually have been vaccinated. Vaccinations are different from other personal health decisions because without them, a person has the ability and potential to infect an entire population. With the possibility to eradicate diseases, the cooperation of the public is necessary. With behaviors like exercise or diet, a person is only effecting themselves. In addition, I think the child’s parents are responsible for the health of their children. But I also strongly agree that they should recognize the risks that go along with their choices not to vaccinate. They should understand that they are not only putting their children at risk, but other people’s children as well. And as a parent who deeply cares for the health of your child, how could you not relate to the woes and concerns of other parents as well?
                There are many reasons why a child might not receive their recommended amount of immunizations. The parents are concerned that these vaccines contain harmful chemicals. With the internet, parents have access to cases where the vaccines have gone wrong. Parents also may think that physicians don’t offer them a choice to be vaccinated and view it as routine and necessary. Parents don’t understand the facts and the research that goes into prevention of epidemics, so they don’t have that information to base their decisions on because they aren't scientists.
                To increase vaccination rates I would present more evidence to the population that shows that these vaccinations do indeed do more good than harm. I would explain that there are rare cases where things may go wrong. Show them that yes it can happen, but the likelihood of that occurrence is less than if one does not get the shot at all and is vulnerable to disease. I think it would also be good to push the fact that world and international travel has reached highs like never before. With other countries less fortunate than the U.S., these diseases are actually a reality and a regular occurrence.  If people know that there are always people traveling and the ease with which it is to spread germs, they will be more aware that just because they think they are safe within their neighborhood or town, that doesn't mean others can’t come in. It would also be a good idea for the health care system not to seem so demanding or insensitive despite the good intentions of their measures. Perhaps there also may need to better policies in place as well.


  1. I enjoyed reading your blog for this week's assignment. I thought you did a good job briefly summarizing the main points of the video. However, I think you could put some better transitions in the summary and the post as a whole in order to make the post flow better. I like how you ask a few different questions in your post as well. These questions are thought-provoking and are a nice outlet from simply answering the questions that were asked. I think that your final paragraph, the one that asks what you would do as a policy maker, is full with interesting thoughts on the question as well as ideas that further the discussion. One thing I would have liked to see you discuss more is one or two more reasons why children may not get certain vaccinations. Overall, good job on this week's assignment!

  2. Thanks for your post this week.

    Vaccination continues to be a contentious issue for some. When do you think it is appropriate to stop vaccinating against a disease that is mostly eradicated? We have not had a naturally occurring polio case in the United States since 1979. The rate of serious side effects (usually allergic) are significantly higher than getting the actual disease. Others describe the outstanding costs associated with eradication campaigns. Is it reasonable to divert monies from polio eradication to other endemic disease that cause substantially more morbidity and mortality?

    As you point out, herd immunity is the immunity conferred to an individual based on the level of immunity in the general public. Immunity in the general public can be achieved though vaccination or actual previous exposure to the disease.

    For any public health advocate one must compare and contrast the risks of the vaccine vs the disease.