The Vaccine War

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Frontline Assignment
The Vaccine War

I have three children, all of whom have been vaccinated. To me, it was an important factor in keeping my children healthy and safe. Some parents, however, do not feel that way toward vaccinations. These parents feel that it is safer to their child’s health to not vaccinate their child. Their argument that they have a right to keep their children safe by not vaccinating may be valid, but I think it is more important to protect the community as a whole.

The Center for Disease Control, or CDC, has a recommended vaccine schedule. They strive for all children to be immunized by age six. The immunizations are for illnesses such as polio, measles, rubella and varicella to name a few. The schedule is a series of 29 physician administered doses that fight 14 different diseases (Center). The Frontline video I watched was about the fight between agencies such as the CDC, who feel that these immunizations are for the good of society as a whole, and parents who look at some of the extremely rare side effects of these vaccines, and choose not to vaccinate their children.

I believe that when the CDC and public officials make these recommendations and parents follow them, the biggest benefit is prevention. These immunizations prevent future outbreaks of these illnesses. They also prevent infants that are too young to be vaccinated, some children, immune deficient people and the elderly from getting ill, having to be quarantined, and dying in many cases. Public and private insurance companies, as well as individuals that carry no insurance and people that have large co-pays and deductibles, also benefit from individuals getting the immunizations as recommended. If there were to be an outbreak from lack of immunizations, the financial and social impact to people could be immense. Between hospital bills, prescription charges, missed school by children, missed work by concerned parents, and funeral charges in the extreme cases, a preventable illness could have a great negative impact on an already struggling health care system, as well as the economy.

In the video many people were interviewed that argue for and against vaccines. These include doctors, celebrities and parents. Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy and Robert Kennedy Jr. use their celebrity status and popularity to endorse not vaccinating children because of the health risks involved. Some of the health risks believed by many to be caused by vaccinations are autism, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Addressing). Jenny McCarthy believes her son’s autism was caused by the MMR vaccine. An ingredient in the vaccine which makes an individual immune to measles, mumps and rubella, is thimerosol. Thimerosol is a mercury-containing ingredient found in many vaccines. It is believed that thimerosol causes autism. In the video Jenny McCarthy says that no one is sure what exactly causes the reaction, and that no one will do further studies. The CDC as well as many other agencies and institutes, nationally and worldwide, have studied the effects of thimerosol. These studies have concluded that there is no link between the two.

In Denmark a record is kept of all demographic and health information including information on every birth, when every immunization is administered and when every case of autism is diagnosed. A study was conducted by Statens Serum Institut in Denmark of over half of a million children born between 1991 and 1998, in regards to autism. The conclusion was that there was no increased rate of autism in the children that received the MMR triple shot and those that did not. They then did another study on the relationship between thimerosol and autism. Thimerosol was used in the pertussis vaccine in Denmark starting in the 1970’s and ending in 1992. When comparing the figures of people that were given the thimerosol-containing dose and the figures of people given...
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