The topic of vaccinations is a hot one. It’s not new; but the debate is real. With the outbreak of measles in Disneyland in 2015, more and more parents are speaking up to confirm or deny their beliefs in immunizations for their children, and their answers might surprise you. What happens when you talk about vaccinations is a lot of inappropriate behavior. We all have our beliefs, and we all think that those who do not share them are crazy. When someone doesn’t vaccinate, it makes those of us who do very angry. When parents who vaccinate accuse those who don’t of not loving their kids or caring for their health, it makes those parents mad. What we should do is just get to the facts. Vaccinations are not the devil so many people seem to believe they are; but we’re not looking to change anyone’s mind about their own beliefs. We are simply stating that you can take a look at proven medical facts for yourself to see the pros and cons of vaccinating vs. not vaccinating. Is it dangerous to vaccinate? Is it dangerous not to vaccinate? It’s a difficult subject on which to write because with four kids who are vaccinated on schedule, I am clearly a believer. However, not everyone is. And in fact, fewer people than ever before are choosing to vaccinate their kids, and as a result we are seeing more and more outbreaks of diseases that were once virtually eradicated. With that said, let’s go ahead and view the pros and cons of vaccinations.
Children are healthier. It’s a simple rule that kids who are vaccinated are a lot less likely to develop diseases that could kill them when they are vaccinated. Additionally, children who are vaccinated are safer to other children. If your child is to contract a disease as deadly and dangerous as these, chances are your child’s immune system will stop the disease before it has a chance to affect others. Children who are not vaccinated are much more likely to develop symptoms, spread the disease and cause outbreaks.
Vaccinations eradicate – virtually – disease. According to the National Institute of Health, 9 vaccines given to children have either completely eradicated the disease by more than 98.5%. The only disease not contained as much as this is Pertussis (whooping cough) which is – at the moment – approximately 91% eradicated. A misconception many parents believe is that their children don’t need vaccinations because these diseases “are no longer around,” and the latter half of that statement is true. These diseases are not around anymore – because of vaccinations. The more people choose not to vaccinate, the more people will come down with these diseases again. According to Forbes, Measles was eradicated in the US in 2000 and brought back so much in the past two years that scientists are essentially saying, “I told you so,” after the 2014 outbreak was the worst in more than 20 years. The 2015 outbreak is currently on target to become even worse. A very specific number of people must be vaccinated to keep these diseases at bay, and those numbers are declining rapidly. Hence the number of people who suffer from these easily preventable diseases today.
Another pro of vaccinations is that it’s much less expensive to prevent them than to treat them. And with the cost of insurance for most of the upper middle class these days, you certainly want to go ahead and vaccinate.
Vaccinations are safe. They are not linked to autism as so many people believe. The information that vaccinations cause or increase a child’s risk of autism is false. The primary reason that so many people believe this is that signs of autism tend to present around the same time and age as a specific set of shots are given to kids, and that’s led to the misconception that the shots cause autism. Medical professionals have dispelled this myth.
Vaccinations allow your children to continue going to school when a child is diagnosed with a dangerous and deadly disease. What does this mean? It’s very simple. Kids who are not vaccinated – in many states – are not permitted to go to school if there is even one case of a vaccine-preventable disease in the area. Unvaccinated children could potentially miss weeks of school at a time, which can affect your job status, your children’s learning abilities and your entire lifestyle.
The cons of vaccinations are significantly fewer than the pros. One of the biggest cons is a complaint that many parents have, and that’s how their kids feel the day they are vaccinated. It’s common for children to experience low-grade fever, swelling and redness at the injection site and mild discomfort for a day or so where the shot was given. I have four children of my own, and I’ll tell you that other than crying for a few seconds after their vaccines are injected, none of my kids have ever experienced any of the above issues after their shots.
Another con is that it’s difficult for parents. Some parents I know that don’t vaccinate have been quite honest and said that they choose not to vaccinate because it’s too difficult for them to watch their child endure shots. It’s not fun, by any means, but it is necessary.
There are very severe side effects and health warnings associated with vaccines. Like all medical procedures, there is always the risk of something going wrong. Each individual vaccine comes with its own list of possible side effects, and death can occur. Some children experience allergic reactions, illness and even death. However, these are very minor. For example, the Centers for Disease Control states that before the measles vaccine was introduced in the early 1960s, nearly 4 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with the disease. Since the disease was eradicated in 2000, the largest number of people in the U.S. infected with the disease was 644 in 2014. The CDC attributes this to the fact that more and more people are choosing not to vaccinate their children and the herd immunity is lessening.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images