Even if you don’t have children, you probably know that the topic of vaccinations is an extremely controversial one nowadays.
As with most hot-button issues, it’s important to know the facts before weighing in. But with so many opinions and conflicting information swirling around -- not to mention the influx of influential celebrities weighing in on the topic lately -- it might be tough to know where you really stand.
We waded through the trenches of this polarizing subject to bring you both sides of the debate so you can decide for yourself and make an informed decision.
Proponents of vaccinations feel so strongly about the cause due to various reasons: it protects future generations, it saves families time and money, it’s been proven safe and effective, just to name a few. But the most indisputable reason is quite simple: immunizations can save your child’s life.
Quite simply, advocates maintain that nothing can protect your baby better from 14 serious childhood diseases than choosing immunization. The American Academy of Pediatrics states “most childhood vaccines are 90%-99% effective in preventing disease,” and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 322 million cases of childhood illnesses were prevented between 1994 and 2014 due to vaccination.
Thanks to modern day medical advances, as a parent you now have the power to shield your child against deadly diseases that have been known to kill thousands of children in the past; why wouldn’t you take that extra precaution to ensure your baby is healthy and happy?
Tara Smith, associate professor of epidemiology at Kent State, points out how the diseases we vaccinate against, such as measles and whooping cough, while rare, still exist today. “These diseases are much more than any potential side effect from a vaccine, so for me it’s a risk-benefit,” Smith says. “I would much rather have my children get the vaccine than the disease itself.” And the proof is in the numbers: in 1980 there were 2.6 million child deaths from measles, compared to only 122,000 deaths in 2012—when 84% of babies were vaccinated.
Children who don’t get vaccinated add to the resurgence of these vaccine-preventable diseases, potentially harming loved ones and putting future generations of children unfairly at risk and undoing all of the work we’ve done as a society to eradicate them.
Furthermore, the United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. In fact, the US Department of Health and Human Services states, “Vaccines are some of the safest medical products available.” Before a vaccine is approved, it is thoroughly tested by scientists and medical professionals who carefully evaluate it to determine its safety and effectiveness. Check out this handy guide that maps out the journey vaccinations take before they ever reach your child’s body.
One of the most frustrating things for supporters of immunization is the overwhelming amount of misinformation floating around in society. Even though reputable organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all strongly support the use of vaccines, there are still plenty of people who are strongly against it. And more and more info continues to surface, making parents around the world mistrust vaccines.
About a decade ago, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in a medical journal that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines. Soon after, it was discovered that he had actually made the entire thing up, fabricating everything and falsifying all the facts. Despite being labeled as untrue, it tainted the opinions of many parents who still today believe vaccines do more harm than good, with a whopping 25% of US parents believe shots cause autism in healthy children.
People who are against immunizations maintain that vaccines are laden with toxic chemicals and poisons that harm children and creating permanent damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all vaccines do carry the potential of a life-threatening allergic reaction. Anti-immunization advocates also blame the unreliability of pharmaceutical companies as another reason to ditch vaccines, citing the countless number of medicines that were once believed to help believe that were later linked to deaths and removed from the market.
Another reason for foregoing vaccines is that they are simply unnatural, and that natural immunity is more effective than vaccination. Kurt Perkins, DC, a chiropractor and wellness expert, stated, “A vaccine violates all laws of natural immune defenses by taking a potential pathogen along with all the toxic ingredients directly into your blood system. This process would never occur in building natural immunity.”
The issue of intervening in what should be a very personal decision also plays a role. Doctor and former US Representative Ron Paul stated in a 2011 article, “intimately personal medical decisions should not be made by government or anyone else – freedom over one’s physical person is the most basic freedom of all, and people should be sovereign over their own bodies.”
By now, we’re sure you’ve heard a few celebrities who have spoken out about the allegedly harmful effects of vaccinations. Having people in the public eye strongly denounce something as important as immunization is increasingly influencing parents everywhere and making them reconsider the decisions they make regarding their babies’ health. In the end though, every parent should do the research beforehand in order to be able to make an educated decision for their child.