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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is recommended for children to receive 29 doses of 9 vaccines before they turn six years old (ProCon, n.d.). Vaccines are meant to protect against deadly and infectious diseases that have historically caused public health concerns, which is why many state laws and organizations require them. A group of concerned citizens exists that stands against mandatory vaccination, arguing that vaccines may cause negative side effects, contain toxic substances and that governments should not interfere in the medical choices of private citizens.
The negative side effects of vaccines are the most popular and strongest argument of opponents to childhood immunization. Vaccines inherently carry a risk of potential side effects ranging from allergic reactions to major health complications. Despite strict monitoring, side effects will be present for any type of vaccine as it is technically a medication. The reactions and side-effects are relatively random and unpredictable, unique for each child. Serious complications can reach the prevalence of 1 in 100 persons for some vaccines (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).
There is strong evidence that demonstrates an association between the MMR vaccines and febrile seizures as well as the varicella vaccine causing complications in immunodeficient children. Moderate evidence associates the rotavirus vaccines with intussusception (Maglione et al., 2014). This research creates concern about immunization safety and risk of use since little to no precautions are taken to prevent adverse events in children with certain complications resulting in fatal outcomes.
A vaccine has many components, some of which are potentially toxic. Besides the antigens of the infection, ingredients such as adjuvants, antibiotics, and preservatives are added for purposes of immune response and preventing contamination. However, some of the elements are concerning and can have health impacts for children in large enough amounts. For example, thimerosal (ethylmercury), although naturally occurring, is harmful in large amounts.
In the past, children receiving several doses of vaccines exceeded the recommended limit by EPA standards. Formaldehyde and aluminum are present in small amounts as well, although medically within minimal limits for children. Meanwhile, substances such as antibiotics or monosodium glutamate have been associated with short-term allergic reactions (Public Health, 2018). Although government agencies argue that the amounts of substances are minimal and pose no risk, medical professionals and scientists have expressed concern on the matter. Another aspect is that information on the vaccine or its origins is rarely provided to the public, parents, or even physicians administering immunizations.
Mandatory immunization for kids in some states and organizations or schools requiring it for participation in others has sparked an intense public debate on the role of choice in vaccination. Opponents to immunization, particularly when coercive policies are implemented, argue that it defies fundamental democratic and constitutional rights to self-determination and protection of bodily integrity. Forcing it is technically a violation of human rights.
For children, who are bound by parental decision-making, at least until the age of maturity, this principle applies as well, since parents make the choice they feel is right for their family. The right to oppose and choose is a vital right for freedom of thought, speech, and autonomy that the government should not be involved in. Furthermore, mandatory vaccination violates the medical principle of informed consent (Fisher, 2014). Considering that there is a proven risk to vaccines and it is a medical procedure, citizens should be protected.
Immunizations for kids are high-risk medical procedures that may result in severe and fatal complications as research data suggests. Vaccines are potentially composed of toxic or synthetic elements which may lead to long-term health problems. Finally, from an ethical and political perspective, in a Democratic country such as the United States, the government should not interfere in the medical decisions of private citizens as it is a violation of constitutional rights.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Possible side-effects from vaccines. Web.
Fisher, B. L. (2014). Vaccination: Defending your right to know and freedom to choose. Web.
Maglione, M. A., Das, L., Raaen, L., Smith, A., Chari, R., Newberry, S.,… Gidengil, C. (2014). Safety of vaccines used for routine immunization of us children: A systematic review. Pediatrics, 134(2), 325-337. Web.
ProCon. (n.d.). Should any vaccines be required for children? Web.
Public Health. (2018). What goes into a vaccine? Web.