Argumentative Essay on Vaccinations
With fabrications like Wakefield’s infamous edition of The Lancet or an army of uneducated, stubborn, and angry parents, the attack on practicing vaccination remains as passionate as ever. The reputation of this medicine precedes the actuality of its effect. With constant research, tedious testing, and specific vaccines for both types of people and types of disease, practicing vaccination is one of the greatest modern medical contributions. Vaccination is safe and effective and furthering its mark in the world will aid society.
Questioning vaccination as a cause for autism dates back to the 1990s. During 1995, a group of British researchers published an issue of The Lancet, which is a weekly-released medical journal. The edition released suggested participants within their study were found more likely to become infected from a bowel disease if they had received a combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccination, rather than receiving the vaccinations separate. One of the twelve researchers was gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, who:
...went on to further study a possible link between the vaccine and bowel disease by speculating that persistent infection with vaccine virus caused disruption of the intestinal tissue that in turn led to bowel disease and neuropsychiatric disease (specifically, autism) (“Do Vaccines Cause Autism?” par. 3).
In 1998, Wakefield and twelve additional co-authors studied this case further. In an interview done for the British Medical Journal, Wakefield stated, “...the risk of developing [autism] is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines” (“Research Started as Tests on 10 Kids.” par. 11). Conversely, experts are aware that autism is not capable of occuring by vaccine. According to Newton et al. and their studies for their medical encyclopedia, “Autism appears to be a genetic disorder” (104). Also, “[Autism] almost certainly develops before the child is born” (Newton et al. 104). Autism is not connected in any way to receiving vaccinations, yet by announcing to the world that he had found a connection to autism and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, Wakefield created an air of fear around vaccination, acting as the impetus for a growing community of people choosing not to vaccinate their children.
The Positive Outcome of Vaccinations
However, the effects of vaccination are perspicuous. Because of vaccination, the cases of preventable diseases have drastically declined. For example, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases demonstrated the declining statistics of various diseases’ cases. Measles’ baseline 20th century annual accounts had 503,282 cases (“Vaccine Benefits,” par. 2). During the year 2009, there was a report of 71 cases. Further, there were 175,885 reports from victims of the diphtheria disease from the same 20th century baseline, but in the year 2009, there were zero cases of diptheria. Similar to this reading was the smallpox disease, as the decrease was reported to be 100 percent. The original baseline was 48,164. In 2009, there were zero reports of smallpox. The reason for such an immense reduction is the cause of vaccination. However, if an excessive amount of people do not receive the preventive care, a dangerous outbreak can occur. For example, there was a measles breakout during 1989. There were 55,000 estimated cases, with 136 people losing their lives. This situation could have been avoided if vaccinations were administered prior to catching the disease.
All vaccinations are possible because of the arduous and extensive research into their safety and effect. “Vaccines, as with all products regulated by the FDA, undergo a rigorous review of laboratory and clinical data to ensure the safety, efficiency, purity, and potency of these products” (“Vaccines,” par. 1). Testing is done through multiple stages and companies. Every vaccine goes through testing or evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Safety measures have been put in place. For example, routine monitoring of effectiveness occurs if the vaccination is for infants, children, or adults. Because of the frequent vaccinations given to infants or children, many people can be assured safety (“Vaccine Safety,” par. 3). Testing for vaccination can take many years, as it is not a process that can be skimmed. Study groups start small, with numbers between twenty and 100, but grow as confidence in a vaccine develops. Testing answers questions about genuine safety, most effective dosages, and precisely how immune systems react. The FDA works directly with companies that design vaccines (pars. 4-6). Even after initial approval of a vaccine to the public, testing is still not finished. The FDA continues to review results and question the producers. The main focus of any questions asked after release is to assure potency, purity, and sterility of the vaccination, as it is removed from the FDA’s direct supervision (pars. 7 and 8).
Once a vaccine is out to the general public, there are multiple companies who listen for complaints or concerns. One of these companies is known as the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, which is managed by the CDC and FDA. It acts as an early warning system. Patients, health care professionals, and other vaccination companies direct their complaints about any side effects communicated with telephone calls. With this information, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System can track odd patterns within the community of those who were vaccinated. Assessing patterns can help begin to narrow down if any side effects are caused by the vaccine itself or from an outside component (par. 11). Also, there is a company known as the Vaccine Safety Datalink. They look at research on a larger scale, consisting of official medical reports as opposed to calls, like those directed to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. Because of the large scale of trustworthy sources, the Vaccine Safety Datalink can study further if side effects are related or random (par. 12). Additionally, there is a group called The Post Licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring System, otherwise known as PRISM. PRISM uses health insurance claims to question safety issues in regards to newer licensed vaccines (par. 13). With research happening constantly for every type of vaccination available to the public, concerns for safety are assured that the science is safe.
Types of Vaccinations
There are many diseases, which calls for many vaccines. Currently, there are four types of vaccinations. There are live-attenuated, inactivated, polysaccharide, and toxoid vaccinations (“Vaccine Types,” par. 3). Live-attenuated vaccinations use a weakened form of the disease within the injection. Because of this, it is advised that one speaks to a healthcare professional in order to remain safe. Those with weakened immune systems, long-term health issues, or who have gone through organ transplants are not recommended for this type of vaccine. Also, these vaccinations have to be kept cool by refrigeration, so some countries have limited access. Despite these precautions, live-attenuated vaccines are beneficial. They protect against measles, mumps, rubella, rotavirus, smallpox, chicken pox, and yellow fever. Also, it only takes two injections at most to have a lifelong protection (pars. 5-7). Inactivated vaccines utilizes a killed version of the germ. Although they require booster shots, inactivated vaccines do not provide protection equal to that of live- attenuated. Inactivated vaccines provide protection against hepatitis A, the influenza, polio, and rabies (pars. 9 and 10). Polysaccharide vaccinations contain a specific part of the disease-causing germ, like a protein or a capsid. With polysaccharide vaccines, there is a strong immune response. Also, it allows for broad use. Anyone with a weakened immune system or lifelong problems are able to be treated. Similar to inactivated vaccines, polysaccharide vaccines require booster shots. This type of vaccination provides protection against Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV), whooping cough, pneumococcal disease, and meningococcal disease (pars. 11-13). Last, there is the toxoid vaccine. The toxoid vaccine uses a toxin created organically by the disease-causing germ. This type of vaccine requires booster shots. It protects against diphtheria and tetanus (pars. 14-16).
There are multiple types of vaccinations in order to attend to the general public’s need. For example, polysaccharide vaccinations are only effective in older children and adults (“Consumers Biologistics - Vaccines for Children - A Guide for Parents and Caregivers” pars. 13-15). As previously mentioned, some shots require boosters. For example, the Tdap shot (Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Adsorbed) requires boosters for those aged eleven or twelve. The Tdap shot itself has multiple types to provide for as many people as possible. One kind, known as Boostrix, is recommended for anyone above ten years old. This means that elderly can receive this vaccination, which is rare, as elderly are more at risk for harmful side effects. Also, another kind of the Tdap shot known as Adacel is safe for those aged between ten and 64 (par. 25). The DTaP (Diphtheria and Tetanus and Acellular Pertussis Adsorbed) vaccine also requires booster shots. The DTaP shot is administered in a series from ages six weeks up to six years (par. 24). Schools are growing in numbers for wanting to have their children to be vaccinated against the rubella disease (Newton et al. 636). Children attending must receive a vaccination between ages 12-15 months, and again between years 4-6. According to Newton et al., “Vaccination is a safe and certain way to prevent rubella” (636). Despite schools now expecting to have their children protected and medical professionals’ praise, many parents still refuse to vaccinate their children.
Ignorance of Vaccination and its Consequences
Ignoring the words of healthcare professionals is dangerous. If too many children are without vaccination, outbreaks can occur. Warnings show that diseases reappearing are not far from possibility, as shown by the FDA: Because immunization programs of the 20th century were so successful, many of today’s parents have never seen many vaccine-preventable diseases and do not understand the potential for them to re-emerge. If too many individuals choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children, some diseases that are now rare or non-existent in this country may resurface. (par. 3)
This can be further shown by outbreaks. Although measles has not been constantly present in America since 2000, there was an outbreak as recent as 2014 (“Consumers Biologistics - Vaccines for Children - A Guide for Parents and Caregivers” par. 4). The diseases can be, in some cases, disastrous. For example, the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) left untreated to infect the brain can cause pneumonia, severe throat swelling, infection of blood, joints, bones, and tissue infections (“Consumers Biologistics - Vaccines for Children - A Guide for Parents and Caregivers,” par. 26). Hib can also lead to death. Measles, found to be one of the most contagious diseases, has terrifying symptoms; left untreated, one can suffer pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and even death (par 5).
Vaccination has proved to be one of the greatest modern medical contributions, as it has saved lives and prevented harmful diseases. Despite the notorious edition of The Lancet and uneducated parents, vaccines need to be given to as many people as possible to preserve not only their own health and wellness but that of those around them.