In my last post I was just beginning the process of writing my research essay. Now this is the finished product. I am excited to share this with you.
Will vaccines hurt my child’s quality of life? First time parents have a lot to think about before and after having a child. The care of this little human is their number one priority in the world. If something happened, they would be heartbroken. Among many first big decisions a parent makes for their newborn is “Am I going to vaccinate my child?” While this is completely up to the parents, doctors will advise that every child should receive their recommended routine vaccines.
More and more since 2000, parents have began to opt out of vaccinating their children. This number has slowly been rising, which can begin to create problems for the child, and along with the rest of the population. Vaccinations are solely meant to protect the individual who is receiving the vaccination, but it also plays a role in protecting others around them everyday. We need to be a team in this world to survive, and to be a team everyone needs to be a team player and, protect each other.
Each year the World Health Organization keeps a close eye on the amount of people that have received the proper vaccinations they need. They group the number of people who are up to date receiving vaccinations as the “Global Vaccination Coverage.” As of their last count in 2016, worldwide 12.9 million infants did not receive any vaccines. That is about one in ten. As the years continue the number of children vaccinated is falling. Since 2010, the percentage of children who have received their full course of routine vaccinations have come to a halt at 86%. (“1 and 10 Infants,”2016). This falls below the Global Coverage Target of 90%. Doctors have agreed that the most crucial vaccines are the ones scheduled be given in the first ten years of life. Now parents are beginning and continuing more and more to opt out of those vaccinations for their children. We are seeing some diseases that were almost completely gone resurface. By more and more new parents choosing not to vaccinate illnesses and diseases can and are coming back into circulation. Vaccines are extremely important and outweigh the potential risk of diseases that they are created and intended to prevent.
In action to get the Global Vaccine Target Coverage backup to where it should be, The World Health Organization (WHO) marked a week in April called “World Immunization Week.” This week aims to promote the use of immunizations to protect people of all ages from disease. The main goal of the week in 2017 was to stress the importance of full immunization throughout life, and sticking to the vaccination schedule. During this week WHO also highlights how vaccines are the top global health investment priority, and shows that immunization role in sustaining the global health security.
Vaccinations will not just protect the person that is receiving them from harmful and in some causes fatal diseases, that person being vaccinated can help in protecting the whole population of people. If everyone was vaccinated, illness and disease would not spread as easily, and quite possibly many diseases would not even exist anymore. When there are people that are not protected they can spread diseases, which then if more unvaccinated people have a disease, it raises the chance for people who are vaccinated to contract it. Take a minute and think about how being vaccinated can help future generations too. A vaccinated mother can protect her unborn children from viruses that could cause birth defects. Before the Rubella (German Measles) vaccine was licensed in 1969 there was an outbreak causing birth defects in 20,000 newborns and 11,000 newborn deaths between the years of 1663 and 1965 in the United States. Mothers who received the Rubella vaccination as children decreased the chance of passing that virus and birth defects on to their unborn and newborn children. (“Should Any Vaccines,”2017).
Receiving the correct vaccinations can also work to eradicate diseases from the population. This is extremely important and something that is great to work towards because then if some of the big viruses and diseases were completely gone, vaccinations for those might not be needed in the future. For instance children are no longer vaccinated against Smallpox because this disease does not exist anymore. The paralytic form a of Polio has almost completely disappeared as well thanks to the work of vaccinations. Unfortunately as for some other illnesses, like measles we have started regressing in that area over the last few years. In December of 2014 The California Department of Public Health was notified of a suspected measles case, the eleven year old unvaccinated patient was hospitalized. The only notable travel he had during the exposure period was to two Disney theme parks in California. As of about two months later on February 11th, 2015, 125 cases had be reported during the time frame of December 28th, 2014 – February 8th, 2015. Each case had been confirmed to be connected to the outbreak. (“Measles Outbreak,”2015).This instance is one that explains just how important it is to get vaccinated. With more individuals receiving their proper vaccinations that one case of measles might not have spread and turned into 125.
More and more new parents are beginning to think that vaccinations do more harm than help to their children, therefore they are opting out of vaccinations for their newborns. Making this choice actually really puts the child at risk of contracting a potentially fatal or life changing virus or disease. WHO states, “Vaccines are very safe.” The United States Department of Health and Human Services explains, “ Vaccines are some of the safest medical products available.” These quotes are stated on the official Pro and Con website for vaccines controlled by the Government. (“Should Vaccines,” 2017).
Another thing parents are worried about are if the vaccinations will actually weaken their baby’s immune system. But they do not need to be concerned about this. The American Academy of Pediatrics explains that a baby’s immune system can actually handle the number of recommended vaccines that doctors suggest for them, according to the vaccination schedule because they are exposed to multiple germs on a daily basis.(“Common Vaccine,”2017). With all the research conducted doctors would not recommend more than a child could handle in fear of hurting them. A healthy baby’s immune system should be able to accommodate multiple vaccines.
When deciding if you want to vaccinate your child, it is also best to understand how and what the vaccines consist of. A vaccination introduces a disabled or “dead” antigen (Which is the part of the germ in a disease or virus that the body’s immune system can recognize and then attack to prevent the germ from causing disease.) (“Common Vaccine,”2017) Then administering the dead antigen in the vaccine into the body through an injection this helps train the body to know to protective the immune system if it came in contact with the disease. (“Common Vaccine,”2017). So instead of the vaccinations weakening the immune system over time, it will actually help to build it, and help train our bodies to know what to protect us from.
Most people are very fortunate to be able to have access to the vaccines nowadays. My Grandfather was born in 1948, and at the age of two years old was swimming in a dirty river with his siblings and ended up contracting polio. Polio is a crippling and possibly deadly disease, this virus can be spread from person to person and in the worst cases can invade an infected person’s brain or spinal cord. My grandfather was very fortunate that the polio only settled in his left leg, and not anywhere else. Five years later in 1955 the first polio vaccine was invented and given. Even though he had already contracted the disease they still vaccinated him to prevent him from getting polio again or the disease becoming worse. Luckily the polio only affected his leg and not anywhere worse like his lungs, he was still going to be able to lead a normal life.
He is now sixty-nine years old, and the polio resulted in his left leg to stop growing as he grew up. His left leg stands three inches shorter than his right, and is very atrophied. The muscles in that leg are just about non-existent, and it causes him much pain after a day of activity. He wears a brace for his leg and has special shoes made, with the left shoe consisting of a three inch platform to make his legs stand at the same height. To help him walk and maintain his stability as a growing boy he had more than seven surgeries on his ankles and toes before he was a teenager. Many of these surgeries included breaking and rebreaking of the toes adding pins to straighten them out, or fusing the ankle bones together so that he could walk. Today he has zero ability to flex and move his ankle and his foot still curves slightly to the outside, opposite of the natural direction a normal foot would go. Watching him inspires me all the time. To think if that vaccination would have existed just a few years earlier he most likely would not be living with this disease. Like all other vaccines, the polio vaccination protects children by making sure their bodies will be able to fight the polio virus if need be. Researchers proudly explain that 99 out of 100 children who get all the recommended doses of the vaccine will be protected from polio. (“What is,” 2017). The power of vaccines are so great, and that is one example of what vaccines can do and why it is so important to utilize them.
A controversy that has been huge in the last ten years or so, is around the topic of too many vaccines at a time having a connection to causing autism in young children. Research has shown that this is a large reason that the amount of people choosing to forego vaccinating their children has risen. Of course no parent wants their child to have medical problems or a disease they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. That is exactly the outcome vaccines are designed to accomplish, to help ensure that people, especially young children who are still developing their immune systems do not contract a life threatening illness. Scientists along with The American Academy of Pediatrics have been conducting research on if there truly is a connection between vaccines and autism. After two decades of researching intensively, they have found that there is absolutely no link between the two. Somethings that have been found to increase the risk of Autism in children are older parents, a baby born extremely premature, low birth weight, multiple pregnancies, and pregnancies spaced less than one year apart. Researches explain that each family has an unique experience with an Autism diagnosis. For some it happens to correspond with the timing of the vaccinations. (“Autism Speaks,”2017).
Vaccinations do save children’s lives. According to a United Nations Foundation partner organization called Shot@Life, vaccines save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases and illnesses each year. This equals out to about 285 children saved every hour! The Centers for Disease Control also estimated that about 732,000 American children were saved from death and 322 million cases of childhood illnesses were prevented between 1994 and 2014 due to receiving vaccines.
As parents are becoming more worried about having the child receive vaccines, especially in their first years of life, it is important for every parent to be informed that vaccinations are worked on and perfected for a long time before they can be administered to humans. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires up to at least ten years and sometimes longer of testing for all vaccines before they can be licensed. Then once the vaccine is officially licensed The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitor the vaccination and make sure the ingredients are continuing to be safe and work the way they are supposed to. (Should Any Vaccines Be Required,2017).
Now another thing to take into consideration when debating the topic of vaccinating or deciding not to vaccinate your child is the careful preparation, precautions and research medical scientists and researchers have concluded. This is all laid out and explained in the Immunization Schedule which is mapped out from birth all the way to eighteen years old. This explains everything from the suggested ages to get certain vaccinations to the ages that are adequate to receive “catch up” vaccines. With all the technology and ways to test nowadays, we can make sure the data we collect is correct and will not harm the people receive the immunizations.
In conclusion choosing to vaccinate is an important decision, you have a little life in your hands with so much potential. Don’t let the decision not to vaccinate be the reason they could have medical challenges through their life. Vaccination has and will continue to be researched and monitored carefully to ensure it is helping and not hurting people, especially the vaccines given to young lives. Vaccines will not only benefit the person receiving the vaccine but the population as a whole, along with future generations to come. If we continue to vaccinate and keep proving to others that it will help and not hurt, we can start to move more diseases out of existence. That result will not be possible unless the vaccination target coverage gets met or exceeded. The more people who get vaccinations, the more lives that will be protected and people that will be saved. As of this year the Global Vaccine target coverage is 86%, this is only 4% below the ideal target number of 90% for the world.
We also still have a personal responsibility to know as much as we can about the vaccination choices we are making for our children. In the end the more we vaccinate the better it will be for all involved today and many generations to come.