Education.com
Try
Brainzy
Try
Plus

The Vaccine Debate (page 2)

The Vaccine Debate

Related Articles

Related Topics

based on 10 ratings
By
Updated on Sep 28, 2009

In 1998, an explosive study suggesting a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism was published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, launching a frenzy of media attention and public uproar. Many parents, both in Europe and the United States, began to refuse the vaccine for fear of an autism link, and many still believe that the MMR vaccine bears some of the blame for their child’s autism. These parents say that they have observed the same pattern: their child was a normally developing one-year-old, but after the shot, symptoms of autism, such as disinterest in social interaction, began to manifest.

However, it has not been determined that the onset of autism at around the same time as the administration of the MMR vaccine is a causal relationship. The Lancet has since retracted the 1998 study, the lead author has been accused with scientific misconduct, and a host of studies have been released to debunk the connection between autism and vaccines, but anti-vaccination organizations have continued to ask for further government testing of vaccines and the possible dangers they pose.

Effectiveness

Some anti-vaccination activists object to the unnatural quality of the vaccination practice, preferring, instead, the more traditional process of contracting a disease naturally, such as measles and chickenpox, which, after recovery, gives the person life-long immunity. “Once you get measles and recover, you’re immune for life,” says Neil Miller, a medical research journalist and author of Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?. “The vaccine itself does not confer permanent immunity. This is why they’ve developed this idea of booster shots. What is the medical industry’s answer to an ineffective vaccine? It’s to give more of it.”

But Wayne Yankus, MD, a community pediatrician in New Jersey,  suggests that the notion of lifelong immunity for those naturally inoculated for a disease in childhood may be unraveling. He points out that adults are living longer than ever before, and that waning immunity may be possible in old age even when someone had, say, chickenpox as a child. However, Yankus acknowledges that there is a small percentage for whom immunization just doesn’t work. The fix? “We count on herd immunity, which is why we require immunizations for school.”

A Parent’s Rights

The vaccine debate has also lead to a controversy over the role of government versus the right of a parent to make choices regarding their child’s health. At present, choosing to refuse vaccination for your child is not illegal, but it is mandated as a requirement for your child to attend public school (exemptions for religious or medical reasons, and sometimes for philosophical ones as well, are available but sometimes difficult to obtain).

Public health authorities view large-scale vaccination as an essential key to preventing epidemic diseases. Individuals, however, often weigh the “big picture” of public health against perceived dangers to one’s individual child. Because of the “herd immunity” of the general population, the decision not to vaccinate a single child might seem safe on an individual basis. But, says Yankus, parents today lack perspective on the dangers posed by refusing immunization. “The issue with immunizations in general is that because so many parents today have never seen these diseases or known what they can do, many parents choose not to immunize, which is a huge mistake,” he says. “I grew up with many of these diseases. I had a college roommate who died of measles encephalitis. I had a neighbor who contracted polio.”

View Full Article
Add your own comment

Ask a Question

Have questions about this article or topic? Ask
Ask
150 Characters allowed