Vaccination: Save And Grace Or Death And Mourn

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Six pounds, seven ounces, nineteen and a half inches. Brown eyes and a full head of blonde hair. It’s seven o’clock in the morning. You spring out of bed to hear your newborn has awaken. She is your new pride and joy. Every morning when you lift her from her wooden crib, you feel your heart grow warmer. Each look into her eyes makes you feel at home. Her cute little smile brings you an immense amount of joy that you have never felt before. Your sweet baby girl is the miniature version of yourself. The thought of losing her is completely unfathomable.

Bringing your baby home from the hospital can be quite a daunting feeling. As a new parent, the expectations are extremely high, and you fear doing anything that could possibly hurt your baby. Along with arriving home from the hospital comes numerous checkups to ensure your baby is growing the way she should be. At these appointments you are asked about vaccinating your baby. You are given a plethora of information regarding each vaccine, but you’ve heard mixed reviews from friends, family and the news. The doctors advise you to vaccinate your baby, but you are uneasy and do not want to make the wrong decision. While many parents are divided on this topic, research on the history and effectiveness of vaccines prove that each child should receive immunizations to protect not only themselves, but those around them from epidemics.

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Vaccinations were first invented for smallpox in 1798 by Edward Jenner, the founder of vaccinology in the West (A Brief History of Vaccination). Immunizations are a weakened or dead part of bacteria that the vaccine prevents against. Exposing children to vaccines that include the disease enables the body’s germ fighting system, the immune system, to build up antibodies which protect against disease contraction when exposed to the disease. Most vaccines are administered at birth through 6 years of age, some in combinations and others at different ages (Stanford Children's Health). Throughout the past years, the topic of vaccinations has created controversy regarding safety. When exposed to a foreign agent, whether it be food or vaccine, there is always a risk of bad reaction. However, despite the low risk of negative effects, vaccines offer many positive purposes. Everyday vaccines save lives. This became evident when deadly diseases, such as smallpox and polio, were eradicated by vaccines years ago. In addition to saving lives, early vaccinations can save you thousands of dollars later by preventing you from contracting a deadly disease and needing serve treatment. It is vital to have children vaccinated at an early age for their protection. Diseases spread rapidly and powerfully. Research has concluded that about 453,000 children die from rotavirus, 118,000 die from the measles, and 60,000 die from tetanus each year (Mosier). These diseases are all preventable by vaccination. If everyone was properly vaccinated these numbers would become negligible or very close to it.

When it comes to enrolling children in school, they are required to be vaccinated. Regulations have been set in place for public and private grade schools, daycares, colleges and universities, healthcare workers, and patients put in certain facilities. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put these regulations into effect in order to stop the spread of communicable diseases. By the time a child enters kindergarten, he or she is required to have between five and nine immunizations, depending on the state in which they live. Without these vaccines, children are not allowed to attend school. There are three types of exemptions to these regulations: medical, religious, and philosophical (Luthy). Medical exemptions allow a child to be excused from an immunization if such immunization interferes with other health conditions the child may have. A religious or philosophical exemption is used in cases of strong faith or beliefs against immunizations. In addition to setting regulations, the CDC is responsible for approving vaccines for administration. Vaccine hesitant parents often argue that vaccines are experimental and use this as a reason not to vaccinate their children. However, vaccine development is a long, complex process, often lasting ten to fifteen years and involving a combination of public and private involvement (CDC).

Vaccination is not only a health concern, but an economic one too. This year in Washington state, one million dollars was spent to contain a measles outbreak that resulted from some unvaccinated children (Blad). Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are attacked for the profits made from vaccinations. This controversy known as “big pharma” is another way vaccine hesitant adults justify their decision not to immunize themselves and their children. Big pharma is a conspiracy theory circulated online that both doctors and pharmaceutical companies stand to profit financially from vaccination—which supposedly leads to perverse incentives in advocating for the public to vaccinate (Lam). In reality, vaccines are extremely unprofitable for caretakers. The testing, manufacturing, and licenses required for any vaccine is extremely pricey. Ten years ago, vaccine incentives were so weak that companies began looking for other drug treatments to supply to their patients (Lam). From 1967 to 1980, the number of immunizations being administered by companies was cut in half due to cost. However, vaccines could never be eliminated because of their undeniable effectiveness compared to other drugs. Today, vaccines are back in high demand primarily because of the need for such medicine in developing countries. Despite any spike in distribution, it can still take up to two decades for companies to see a significant profit from an immunization (Lam).

The choice to vaccinate children is very significant. Some parents refuse to vaccinate their children due to misinformation and distrust in public institutions (Blad). Parents fear side effects of vaccines, death, and the onset of autism because it is what they hear about in the news. A group of vaccine advocates, Bazzano, Zeldin, Schuster, Barrett and Lehrer, describe the controversial topic of autism in their article, “Vaccine-related beliefs and practices of parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.” Arguably the biggest concern in terms of vaccination is the possibility of chronic illness. The highly debated idea that vaccines cause chronic illnesses prevents many parents from vaccinating their children. The chronic illness feared most is autism. The presence of autism has risen in children over the last fifteen years. It is said that one in every one hundred and ten children will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This dramatic rise in diagnoses stumps researchers and gaps in knowledge pertaining to ASD continue to exist. In 1998, a research article was published in small medical journal called “The Lancet.” This article focused on the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine. The author of this article, Andrew Wakefield and twelve of his colleagues published a case series which suggested that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine was related to the development of autism. It was this publishing that started the widespread fear of vaccines’ link to autism. Although these doctors’ theories were soon scientifically disproven and Wakefield lost his medical license, the belief that vaccines can put a child on the spectrum remain. Today, parents say this fear is one of their primary concerns when deciding whether or not to vaccinate their children. According to a study completed by American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 32% of parents believe that the MMR vaccine caused their child’s autism. In addition, 67% of those parents discontinued treatment with their other children in fear that it would happen again (Bazzano). The study went on to explain that the diagnosis of autism is often blamed on the physician that administered the vaccine. In 68% of cases, parents switched physicians after the onset of autism in a child (Bazzano). The news only broadcasts the negative stories that send parents scrambling. The likelihood for a child to have a negative response to a vaccination is slim.

In relation to negative news stories, parents become susceptible to believing everything they hear. The pessimistic stories lead to vaccination defeat which formed the anti-vaccination movement. This movement has been around for years due to possible side effects of vaccinations. In 1879, The Anti Vaccination Society of America was founded and only grew to become more successful with more followers (History of Vaccines). The movement has spread through various countries and has taken a toll on children’s health. Dr. Wakefield, an anti-vaccination activist, came to the United States and has published many of his ideas for parents to read on the internet because it is the easiest way to find information in today’s society. Parents are beginning to think that vaccines in general may be threatening to children’s immune system (Harwood). There are always two sides to every argument and when becoming a parent, your view may change. Rene F. Najera wrote an article emphasizing that he will always put his children’s best interest first. He didn’t always support the anti-vaxx movement. Najera states, “I started to understand vaccine-hesitant parents when I became a parent. Just like I want to protect my child from vaccine-preventable diseases…” (Najera).

Through examining an abundance of sources, it is evident that both sides of the vaccination controversy have the ability to be backed up. When it comes to chronic illnesses like autism caused by vaccinations, the supposed link put forth in “The Lancet” over two decades ago, has been disproven on multiple accounts. Vaccination hesitant parents stated that the horror associated with causing their child harm is a nightmare and will be avoided at all costs. Sensibly, parents overreact and look past scientific research due to worry. It is hard to disregard pharmaceutical companies controlling the vaccine market when thinking about “big pharma.” With this being said, it is important to consider the timeline and costs that go into vaccine production. It is not as lucrative a business as one would expect. Before making the decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate oneself or a child, all the facts and research should be carefully considered because as always, there are two sides to every story.

Works Cited

  1. “A Brief History of Vaccination.” Immunisation Advisory Centre, 4 Apr. 2017,
  2. Blad, Evie. “When Measles Breaks Out, Unvaccinated Kids Send Schools Scrambling.”
  3. Education Digest, vol. 84, no. 9, May 2019, pp. 4–8. EBSCOhost,
  4. “CDC - Vaccination Laws - Publications by Topic - Public Health Law.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
  5. Freed, Gary L.1,2,3.gfreed@med.umich.ed., et al. “Parental Vaccine Safety Concerns in 2009.” Pediatrics, vol. 125, no. 4, Apr. 2010, pp. 654–659. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1542/peds.2009-1962.
  6. Harwood, Richard, “Bad Science and Serious Consequences!” IS: International School, vol. 21, no. 3, Summer 2019, pp. 55–56. EBSCOhost,
  7. “History of Anti-Vaccination Movements.” History of Vaccines,
  8. “In Defense of the Common Anti-Vaxxer.” In Defense of the Common Anti-Vaxxer | History of Vaccines,
  9. Lam, Bourree. “Vaccines Are Profitable, So What?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 12 Feb. 2015, 85214/.
  10. “Legal and Policy Responses to Vaccine-Preventable Disease Outbreaks.” Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, vol. 47, June 2019, pp. 11–14. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/1073110519857307.
  11. Luthy, Karlen E., et al. 'Addressing Parental Vaccination Questions in the School Setting.' The Journal of School Nursing, vol. 32, no. 1, 2016, pp. 47-57. ProQuest,, doi:
  12. Mosier, William, et al. “Parents Want to Enroll Their Child. She Is Not Vaccinated. What Should You Do?” Exchange (19460406), no. 249, Sept. 2019, pp. 55–59. EBSCOhost,
  13. North, Anna L. 1.anna.north@yale.ed., and Linda M. .. Niccolai. “Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Requirements in US Schools: Recommendations for Moving Forward.”
  14. American Journal of Public Health, vol. 106, no. 10, Oct. 2016, pp. 1765–1770. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303286.
  15. “Pros & Cons -” Vaccines,
  16. “Stanford Children's Health.” Stanford Children's Health - Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford,
  17. Stein, Richard A. “Vaccination: A Public Health Intervention That Changed History & Is Changing with History.” American Biology Teacher (University of California Press), vol. 73, no. 9, Nov. 2011, pp. 513–519. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1525/abt.2011.73.9.3.
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