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Do Immunizations Help or Harm?

11 Jan 2017Health Essays
Abstract
 
The argument on whether vaccines help lengthen or curtail life arose when immunizations were legally required. Some parents refuse to have their children immunized because of possible side effects that could threaten the lives of their kids. Parents can also apply for exemption from immunization due to religious reasons and beliefs. Immunizations do get us protected from dangerous diseases but it is significant for us to see both sides of the coin, whether the pros really outweigh the cons of the issue or vice versa. This way, we might just be confident of what our preference will be.

Immunizations: Does It Help or Harm?

In the times of our forefathers, diseases and plagues carry the death sentence of numerous people if not a whole community. Ancient organic and herbal medicines are their only weapon to treat those afflicted but in most cases its effects are outran by the expeditious spread of these terrifyingly contagious diseases. Those days, quarantines were vastly exercised to prevent uninfected people to get sick and in most cases infected people are left for the care of those who have survived and have developed immunity to that particular illness but the loss of several loved ones were then inevitable.

The emergence of modern science and technology has been welcomed by society. The incurable diseases now have treatments available in public health care facilities in each community. What seemed like the impossibility to live a longer life amidst the occurrence of frightening diseases has now become more apparent. Most if not all lethal ailments are now curable and preventable.

Immunization or vaccination is one of those preventive ways that can circumvent life-threatening sicknesses. It is a way of creating immunity to particular disease-causing bacteria and viruses by using small amounts of a killed or weakened microorganism that causes the specific disease. Once this is done, the antibodies of an individual who has received a shot of these vaccines fend off these bacteria and viruses, thus developing the immunity to these germs. It has saved millions of lives, thus propelling the United States government to make immunization a legal requirement.

When vaccinations were introduced, people were more concerned of protecting their lives from these illnesses. However, substantial contemporary concerns arose over vaccines as not being a hundred percent safe and disrespecting to those whose religious beliefs oppose immunization. The dilemma for parents is to make sure which choice outweighs the other and what they should opt for. Most of them vacillate on whether to immunize their infants or not. They hesitate because they are anxious that their kids may get the illness the vaccine is supposed to prevent. It is comprehensible for parents to give the utmost protection for a long and healthy life but on the other hand, they are also fearful that their children may have one of those rare severe reactions to one of these vaccine shots that can ruthlessly change a baby’s healthy physiology.

For others, vaccination is a violation to God’s Word since they are made of genetically engineered toxic chemicals that will be injected to our bloodstream which is in contradiction to keeping our bodies holy and free from impurities. Some vaccines are produced from animal tissues and aborted fetal tissues. It clashes with the belief that animal blood should not be mixed with human blood as well as the commandment “Thou shall not kill” that applies to the practice of abortion.

According to Kasprak (2004), every state except Mississippi and West Virginia, exempts individuals who have religious beliefs against immunization. These exemptions will be allowed to those whose religious beliefs would be infringed if the state forced them to have their children vaccinated.

Information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007) say that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, the duration of this immunity may last only a month to about a year. People should vaccinate since this has decreased if not eliminated the number of diseases like polio and diphtheria in the United States. Vaccines safeguard them from childhood diseases that can result to complications and even kill children. Most of these diseases are infectious, thus can also cause others in your household to get sick if one wasn’t given their vaccine shots because of other medical conditions, if the child was too young to have been given that particular shot or due to theological reasons in several religious groups.

There are several recommended immunizations for childhood diseases by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). One is for Diphtheria, which is a bacterial infection that can cause breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death. Then for Haemophilus influenzae type b and Meningococcal or Bacterial Meningitis vaccines which causes blood infections that can lead to death. Vaccines Hepatitis A and B are also important since it that can lead to liver damage and cancer. Measles and Rubella vaccines may prevent ear infections, pneumonia, seizures and brain damage. Vaccines for mumps can also help to avoid deafness, meningitis and painful swelling of the testicles and ovaries.

Vaccines for Pertussis or whooping cough can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death. Tetanus can also prevent painful tightening of the muscles and locking of the jaw. Varicella or chicken pox can become serious to infants and complications may arise from the skin lesions that it causes. Human Papillomavirus vaccines may be given to girls at ages 11 to 12 years for possible prevention to cervical cancer. Polio which can lead to paralysis can also be prevented by vaccines. Rotavirus vaccines can prevent severe diarrhea and vomiting in babies in young children. There are single vaccine shots that can provide immunity to three diseases per dose like DTaP ( for Diptheria, Tetanus and acellular Pertussis) and MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella). It is important to keep a chart of the child’s immunizations to be updated and to monitor when the next shots will be given.

On some rare occasions, these shots cause severe reactions to a child’s body. As narrated by Fisher (2004), hours after she brought her healthy and happy two and a half year old son Chris to the family pediatrician in the late 1970’s for DPT (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine) and OPV (oral polio vaccine) shots, her son suddenly acted strangely. Her son was sitting on a rocking chair, staring straight ahead as if seeing nothing. His face was white, lips were blue then his head fell to his shoulder as if suddenly falling asleep while sitting up. Not recognizing that these may be symptoms or reactions to the vaccine which was administered, Chris was not brought immediately to the hospital. From then on her son’s health had gradually deteriorated.

After a series of tests, at age 6, Chris was confirmed of having a minimal brain damage which has resulted to multiple learning disabilities such as dyslexia, auditory processing deficits, fine motor and short-term memory delays, attention deficit disorder and other developmental delays. Parents should be given comprehensive information on how to determine the symptomatic reactions to the child’s body after a vaccine has just been administered. It is imperative for them to be aware of these symptoms for the necessary health care to be provided immediately.

Vaccines have caused a stir in the society yet the favorable consequences are undeniable in the developed countries as well as in the developing world. Even existing and known viruses and bacteria these days go through mutations with time, thus the materialization of new diseases. Without these vaccines, humans are more susceptible to acquire these known fatal diseases which may exist anywhere. Some of these illnesses are not that perilous but the complications that come with it are the ones causing fatalities all over the world.

This has enriched me in learning the effects of immunization. Choices are to prevent the onset of these diseases through vaccination or not take the chance that their child will have a threatening reaction to vaccinations that can happen in very rare cases at the same time avoid the violation of God’s Word. This choice to immunize or not remains on the hands of the parents to examine what they think is the best decision for their children’s future.

REFERENCES

  • Fisher, B.L. (2004).In the wake of vaccines. Retrieved December 4, 2007, from Mothering, National Family Living.Website: http://www.mothering.com/articles/growing_child/vaccines/wake.html
  • Kasprak, J. (2004). Exemptions from childhood immunization requirements. Retrieved December 5, 2007, from CGA General Assembly. Website: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2004/rpt/2004-R-0263.htm
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2007). Vaccines: The basics. Atlanta, Georgia. Retrieved December 3, 2007, from http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/vpd-vac-basics.htm

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