Intro to Biology
July 22, 2010
The Vaccine Controversy
The vaccine controversy is the dispute over the morality, ethics, effectiveness, and /or safety of vaccinations. The medical and scientific evidence is that the benefits of preventing suffering and death from infectious diseases outweigh rare adverse effects of immunization. Since vaccination began in the late 18th century, opponents have claimed that vaccines do not work, that they are or may be dangerous, that individuals should rely on personal hygiene instead, or that mandatory vaccinations violate individual rights or religious principles. And since then, successful campaigns against vaccinations have resulted in unnecessary injuries and mass death. Vaccines may cause side effects, and the success of immunization programs depend on public confidence for their safety. Concerns about immunization safety often follow a pattern: some investigators suggest that a medical condition in an adverse effect of vaccination; a premature announcement is made of the alleged side effect; the initial study is not reproduced by other groups; and finally, it takes several years to regain public confidence in the vaccine.
In this paper I will be explaining several areas of the vaccine controversy: 1. The history of vaccinations and effectiveness 2. Why some parents are against immunizations
3. What are the findings
Vaccination became widespread in the United Kingdom in the early 1800’s. Before that, religious arguments against inoculation (the placement of something that will grow or reproduce) were advanced. In a 1772 a sermon entitled “The Dangerous and Sinful Practice of Inoculation”, the English theologian Rev. Edmund Massey argued that diseases are sent by God to punish sin and that any attempt to prevent small pox via inoculation is a “diabolical operation”. Some anti – vaccinationists still base their stance against vaccination with reference to their religious beliefs. Public policy and successive Vaccination Acts first encouraged vaccination and then made it mandatory for all infants in 1853, with the highest penalty for refusal being a prison sentence. This was a significant change in the relationship between the British state and its citizens causing public backlash. After an 1867 law extended the requirement age to fourteen years, its opponents focused concern on infringement of individual freedom, and eventually a law in 1898 allowed for objection to vaccination. In the United States, President Thomas Jefferson took a close interest in vaccination, alongside Dr. Waterhouse, chief physician at Boston. Jefferson encouraged the development of ways to transport vaccine material through the Southern states, which included measures to avoid damage by heat, a leading cause of ineffective batches. Smallpox outbreaks were contained by a latter half of the 19th century, a development widely attributed to vaccination of a large portion of the population. Vaccinations rates after this decline in smallpox cases, and the disease again became epidemic in late 19th century. At this point in the 19th century, anti-vaccination activity increased in the U.S. Mass vaccination helped eradicate smallpox, which once killed as many as one in every seventh child in Europe. Vaccination has almost eradicated polio. As a more modest example, incidence of invasive disease with Haemophilus influenzae, a major cause of bacterial meningitis, and other serious disease in children has decreased by over 99% in the U.S. since the introduction of a vaccine in 1988. Fully vaccinating all U.S. children born in a given year from birth to adolescence saves an estimated 14 million infections. Some vaccine critics claim that there have never been any benefits to public health from vaccination. They argue that all the reduction of communicable diseases...