To Immunize or Not to Immunize?
In 2003 there were two million deaths in children that were prevented because of immunization. This is a huge number; these lives were saved by vaccines. Children who are young and whose immune systems are not fully developed can die of illnesses that we as adults think are routine or not life threatening. What we do know is that if children are not immunized, illnesses like polio, measles, rubella, meningitis, and tetanus to name a few, will indeed return, with the cost being lives. There are also many social and economic risks associated with not immunizing children. It’s not only for their safety but for the safety of those around them. Recently parents have stopped immunizing children because of study that say the vaccines “might” cause autism. Most of these studies have been proven wrong or inconclusive. The safety and benefits of vaccinating children still by far outweigh any adverse effects they might have. This is why all children should be immunized. In the U.S. we have a reduced or eliminated many diseases that were once huge killers of infants and small children. One of the viruses we have eliminated is polio. At the height of the polio epidemic in 1952, nearly 60,000 cases with more than 3,000 deaths were reported in the United States alone. Polio was eliminated from the U.S. by 1979 and from the western hemisphere by 1991. This is due to the polio vaccine created by Jonas Salk in 1955. What would happen if parents choose not to immunize their children? According to the CDC “stopping vaccination against polio will leave people susceptible to infection.” Polio while not always life threatening is a virus which usually leads to permanent physical disabilities, which often leaves its victims, who are mostly children, in braces, crutches, and wheelchairs, these effects were life-long. Parents choosing not to immunize their children raise the risk of children becoming infected with not just polio but other diseases which have been eliminated from our society, causing unnecessary illness and even death. One million people die each year from liver disease of this number approximately five thousand cases are due to Hepatitis B. Studies have shown that about 12.5 million Americans have been infected with Hepatitis B at some point in their lifetime. This increases their chances of having chronic liver disease, and liver cancer, costing the U.S. over $700 million in medical and work related costs. Again this is completely avoidable with the immunizing of children. So why are parents choosing not to immunize their children? In 1998 a study was conducted by a Canadian doctor named Andrew Wakefield. His study found traces of measles virus in the intestines of children he tested. He then concluded that this was derived from the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccination. He then suggested that it caused inflammation that was possibly related to the neuropsychiatric dysfunction (autism). The connection was then boosted by a report published in 2001 by autism activist Sallie Bernard, who argued that the mercury in the vaccine preservative thimersol was responsible for causing the autism (Bailey). The article then went on to state that research has failed to find a connection between the vaccine and autism. Autism rates actually grew to 70 per 10,000 in the decade after the preservative was removed from the vaccine. This shows that the doctor’s relation of the two was not connected, and there is no credible evidence behind his claims. The symptoms of autism just happen to emerge at about the same time as the recommended vaccinations are given; this is a coincidence not a cause. I think parents have been misguided by claims of a few doctors who have no serious claims just bits and piece of information, which causes these parents to panic. In turn not immunizing children is leading to more serious consequences. So what is autism? “Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a group of developmental...
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