The Debate over Infant Vaccines

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Having a baby is one of the most exciting moments in life, but it also brings up a very stressful and difficult decision: vaccinating infants.  Figuring out the right answer for vaccinations is impossible, but there are factors that may point people in one way or the other.

Clearly, vaccinations should be mandatory for all infants to be able to prevent diseases like measles or mumps.  Infants are very susceptible to diseases especially without these vaccinations.

Many people’s worries about vaccines are the ingredients used in these vaccines.  Studies have shown that the ingredients in theses vaccinations are actually safe in the amounts used.  They contain mostly water with antigens.  They contain a few added ingredients just to stabilize the solution or to increase the effectiveness.

Another main concern is the adverse reactions that can be damaging or even deadly.  Adverse reactions are actually extremely rare.  The measles vaccine can cause temporary reduction of platelets in 1 in 30,000 children, but the measles cause death in 1 in 2,000 children.  The DTaP vaccine can cause seizures or a temporary “shocklike” state in 1 in 40,000 people and acute encephalitis in 11 in 1 million.  This vaccine prevents diphtheria, fatal in 1 in 20 cases; tetanus, fatal in 1 in 10 cases; and pertussis, fatal in 1 in 1,500 cases.  If the FDA thinks a vaccine poses a real threat, it will not be used.

These vaccines not only help the children now, they help people in future generations by possibly eradicating dangerous diseases.  Since people have gotten the vaccines for multiple diseases, smallpox has been eradicated, and polio has nearly been eradicated.  Just because these diseases are eradicated for now does not mean that they are gone forever.  These diseases are always going to be on earth, but when people use these vaccines, it makes the risk so much more unlikely for catching the disease.  This helps the future generation to fight off these deadly diseases and maybe not even catch them at all.

One of the concerns of parents not willing to vaccinate is that the vaccinations will overwhelm the immune system.  Babies have very sensitive immune systems since it is the first time they are out of the mother’s womb.  They no longer get this protection from their mother.  They now have to fight diseases or foreign substances on their own which can weaken the immune system.  A doctor named Mark H. Sawyer, M.D., Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego of Medicine and Rady Children’s Hospital has proven that to be untrue.  He says, “I’m an infectious disease specialist, but I don’t see infections at two, four, six months of age which would happen if the immune system was overloaded.”

Realizing that vaccinations do more good than harm is the first step in eradicating many other diseases.  The most important part for parents should be conducting research, talking to many doctors or specialists, and forming their own opinion about vaccinations.  Looking up the pros and cons about vaccines should be a good starting point for conducting research.  Talking to not just the typical doctor, but branching out to get more opinions can bring out a lot of ideas and maybe even more questions about vaccines.  Forming an opinion about vaccinations, though, is the most important for a parent because they need to decide whether they want their baby to be vaccinated or not.

Vaccinations should be anyone’s choice, but they need to know the benefits or the negatives before choosing.  Vaccines can save children’s lives from harmful and maybe even fatal diseases.