Despite recent controversy over the question of whether or not to vaccinate children for childhood disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still strongly recommends the practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees. Despite the opinions of these reputable organizations and others, there are still those who question whether vaccinations help or hurt people.
Where the current controversy started
The controversy began in 1998 with a study written by a physician and twelve associates stating that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) had been connected with a rise in autism in children who received it.
That report was later discredited and ten of the twelve authors retracted parts of it saying that there was, in fact, no “causal link” between the MMR vaccine and autism and that data indicating the connection were “insufficient.” According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Lancet, the publication that released the report, completely retracted it in 2010. NIH also reports that the physicians responsible for writing the report were guilty of ethical violations.
Despite the report’s rejection, the vaccination rate declined to noticeable levels. Conversely, reports of measles and mumps increased. One of the most notable outbreaks in the United States took place in several states between 2014 and 2015. 147 people were estimated to have contracted measles and it was thought that those particular cases began in Anaheim, California at Disneyland Resort, according to NIH. It was estimated that the MMR vaccination rate among those who came down with measles in that outbreak was less than fifty percent.
Even though the 1998 report was proven to be unfounded, its inaccurate findings spread due to publicity generated by celebrities and politicians. Credible organizations including the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated connections reported between MMR and autism, as well as the connection between the use of mercury in vaccines and neurological disorders. NIH maintains that the avoidance of vaccinating children does them much harm.
Centers for Disease Control on vaccines
The CDC has issued a list called “Five important reasons to vaccinate your child.” The first reason is to save a child’s life from deadly diseases. The agency credits vaccinations for the elimination of polio in the United States since 1979. Polio had caused the deaths of children worldwide and, thanks to the vaccine, polio rates throughout the world have declined dramatically.
The second reason is that vaccines are safe, administered by physicians only after health and possible side effects are considered. Third, becoming immunized protects others unable to receive a vaccine. In certain cases, it may be dangerous to vaccinate some people with allergies or illnesses. If a friend or family member is protected by a vaccine, it’s possible that those too fragile to receive one could avoid contracting a serious illness.
CDC goes on to say that immunization saves time, money and even prevents enrollment issues for children at school. A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or daycare facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care. In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance.
Finally, immunization protects future generations. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. Smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide and smallpox shots are no longer needed. If vaccinations continue now, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.
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