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As the human civilization has advanced over the centuries, better ways to ensure human health have been invented. Medical advances have led to the discovery of cures for most diseases and the life expectancy of man today is higher than it has ever been at any other point in human history. In addition to curative health care, policy makers and health care practitioners have advocated for preventive health care measures.
One of the ways through which preventive care has been achieved is by use of vaccines. The Immunize Australia Program asserts that over the decades, immunization has emerged as “one of the most effective medical interventions to prevent disease” (5). Governments have therefore embarked on intensive immunization programs for their citizens in an attempt to prevent diseases from inflicting healthy people.
However, this wide scale embrace of vaccinations as the ideal means of providing protection against several diseases has been questioned with vaccine opponents demonstrating that vaccinations may not be as integral to human health as most people have been led to believe. These issues have made vaccination a controversial topic eliciting different reactions from the society. This paper will argue that vaccinations are an activity that exposes human beings to unnecessary dangers without any justifiable reasons.
Arguments against Vaccinations
A major argument given against vaccinations is that they might compromise the health of a previously healthy individual. Vaccines are typically administered to healthy people as a measure of protection against diseases that might or might not afflict the individual in the future. It is therefore unacceptable when the vaccines end up posing health risks to the previously healthy person. Vaccine makers know this and they therefore endeavor to make vaccines that are safe for humans.
Lambert and Kobliner state that even the slightest amount of contamination in vaccine making facilities is grounds for closing down of operations (226). In spite of these stringent measures in place to ensure vaccine safety, administration of vaccinations exposes individuals to some risk. Even ardent advocates of immunization acknowledge that no vaccine is 100% safe and there is always some degree of risk associated with using any vaccination (Immunize Australia Program 9).
Vaccinations have made previously healthy people sick and even caused the deaths of others. Considering the fact that vaccinations are not necessary, the risks that vaccinations present to the individual, however small, unacceptable since vaccines are in most cases an unnecessary precaution. Prohibition of vaccination would ensure that nobody is exposed to these risks.
Vaccines contain harmful preservatives that may cause people to become sick or even die. Preservatives are a key ingredient of vaccines and they are used to “prevent bacterial or fungal contamination” (Offit and Jew 1394). Some of these preservatives used such as Thimerosal are considered harmful to humans.
The role of mercury has been the focus of most of the debate over vaccine safety. Many parents of vaccine injured children hold thimerosal (which is the mercury preservative in vaccines) responsible for damaging their children. Due to the widespread negative media attention that thimerosal has received over the past decades, most governments have restricted the use of mercury preservatives.
In the USA, an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Modernization Act led to a removal of thimerosal from most childhood vaccines (Offit and Jew 1394). In spite of this radical change which led to a removal of the vast majority of mercury in childhood vaccines, Lambert and Kobliner reveal that a notable amount of mercury still exists in vaccines today (227).
In addition to the harmful preservatives, vaccines contain additives that may pose a risk to the health of the vaccination recipient. Offit and Jew reveal that most additives play a significant role in maintaining the integrity of vaccines by ensuring that they remain stable over time (1396). Intentional introduction of toxic substances into the bodies of healthy people through vaccines is irresponsible.
The current vaccination regimes, which are based on a one-size-fits-all immunization protocol, endanger the lives of some individuals who may react in an atypical manner to immunization. The generalized presumption that vaccines are safe is based on tests and monitoring conducted on an average segment of the population.
The Immunize Australia Program confirms that before being released to the general population, rigorous tests on thousands of subjects is carried out to ensure the safety of the vaccine (10). From the tests, conclusions are reached that the vaccine is safe for use on the average healthy individual. This assumption that all health individuals are immunocompetent or that every vaccine is appropriate for every seemingly healthy child is greatly flawed (Lambert and Kobliner 226).
The tests often fail to capture the marginal section of the population who react differently to the introduction of toxins in their bodies. For example, the measles and chickenpox vaccines involve the introduction of live viruses into the body of a healthy patient. While many patients receive such vaccines without serious adverse events, there are rare cases where patients are unable to kick out the viruses. Such patients end up having their immune system compromised due to vaccination.
Historically, vaccines have proven to be ineffective and this negates the need to have them administered to entire populations. The justification for engaging in vaccination efforts is to protect individuals from contracting the ailments for which they have been vaccinated against. In 1960, oral polio vaccinations were administered to the Israeli population. In spite of a wide range of vaccination coverage, big polio epidemics continued to occur in the West Bank and Gaza.
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More recently, Omer et al. document an incident of measles outbreak in Washington State where out of the 19 people infected, one person had been vaccinated against measles (1985). Such incidents demonstrate that vaccines are not as effective in preventing diseases as their proponents suggest. Vaccination programs should therefore be stopped since vaccines are not always capable of offering the protection they promise.
Vaccinations compromise the immune system of young children therefore exposing them to adverse health conditions. The reality is that children are subjected to a battery of vaccinations by the time they are 3 years of age. Over the years, there has been a marked increase in the number of vaccines available on the market today.
In a period of 24 years, the number of diseases in the recommended immunization schedule of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has grown from six vaccines to 14 vaccines (Null and Feldman 1). An even more troubling reality is that these vaccines have to be administered before the child is 2 years old. Null and Feldman document that as of 2007, “the CDC recommended immunization schedule included more than two dozen doses of vaccines targeting 14 diseases for children under the age of 2” (1).
Parents have to comply with these recommendations since there are laws in place dictating that children must receive a certain set of vaccines by the time they reach school going age. The children must show proof of vaccination before they are allowed entry into the school system, which effectively makes vaccinations mandatory for parents since they will want to take their children to school.
Use of vaccine causes one to be dependent on drugs to sustain their immunity. Some classes of vaccines e.g. the killed whole vaccines require “multiple initial doses and booster doses to stimulate and maintain immunity” (Null and Feldman 1).
Once the vaccine has been administered on an individual, he/she needs to periodically take other doses of the vaccine to ensure its effectiveness. The human body is capable of offering immunity on its own. Walene argues that the human body can heal and defend itself from invading organisms with remarkable efficiency (37).
The immune system is able to clear pathogens from the body and ensure that normal neurological functions return without the need for vaccinations. Lambert and Kobliner state that infectious diseases can be managed by focusing on improving nutrition and immune functions in children and adults (307). The unnecessary reliance on drugs that arises from using Vaccines can be avoided by prohibiting the use of vaccines all together.
A Case for Vaccinations
Some medical professionals argue that vaccinations are safe and helpful in the boosting of the immune system of the individual. For this group of medical practitioners, vaccines are considered safe since they do not cause any short-term problems to the patient.
The Immunize Australia Program asserts that vaccines are well tolerated by most individuals and only mild effects such as reddening of the skin area where the injection has pierced the skin are discernable (6). Such statements are used as proof that vaccinations are safe and helpful to the individual.
Lambert and Kobliner assert that a lack of immediate adverse event following the administration of a vaccine does not mean that the child’s immune system is effectively managing the vaccination (225). This observation is supported by Null and Feldman who suggest that vaccine safety issues are sometimes ignored since the reactions are delayed which makes it hard to link the negative outcome to vaccination (2).
Arguably, the biggest proponents of vaccinations are pharmaceutical companies that deal in the development and production of vaccines. These actors declare that vaccines are safe to use and any potential side effect is extensively outweighed by the benefits that vaccinations accrues on human health. The statements made by pharmaceutical companies in support of vaccination cannot be taken as irrefutable proof of the safety and effectiveness of vaccination.
It is unlikely that vaccine manufacturers will own up to the potential damaging effects that their products may have on the population. Lambert and Kobliner rightfully observe that all pharmaceutical companies are keen to limit liability that they may face if the damaging effects of their vaccines are exposed (226). For this reason, the negative effects are likely to remain hidden from the public.
Vaccines have been given credit for the decline of infectious diseases over the decades. UNICEF declared that because of vaccination, the once deadly smallpox has been completely eradicated; an act that has saved up to 5 million lives that could otherwise have been lost to smallpox each year (1).
In addition to this, vaccinations have contributed to the tremendous decline in cases of polio and measles. This supposed effectiveness of vaccinations in decreasing diseases has been one of the greatest justification for the continued use of vaccines and even the mandatory imposition of some forms of vaccination by governments all over the world.
However, some infections are cyclical in nature and cases of infection drop without any intervention. Polio is one of the infections whose decline vaccines have taken huge credit for. A study in Australia showed that the polio vaccine in use at the time had no influence whatsoever on the polio epidemic and the decline in polio cases was because polio comes in cycles (Walene 37).
In spite of such revelations, vaccines continue to take credit and indefinite use of the vaccination is encouraged out of fear that the infection will return if the vaccinations are stopped. With these considerations, Walene suggests that vaccines are superfluous since most diseases die off naturally without the need for prolonged medical intervention (37).
Proponents of vaccination advance that vaccines strengthen immunity against specific diseases therefore increasing the health outcomes of the individual. Vaccines act by inducing protection against known diseases and promote the development of anti-bodies to help the body fight disease.
The body of the vaccinated person is therefore better equipped to fight against the vaccine-preventable ailments. Omer et al declare that vaccination has proven to be very effective in bolstering the immune system with high vaccination coverage often being followed by drastic declines in the occurrence of the disease for which the population has been vaccinated against (1981). In spite of these positive outcomes of vaccines, there have been recorded cases of vaccines suppressing the immune system.
Research on immune dysregulation following the administration of vaccines is currently incomplete. The lack of adequate research on the issue means that there is a large number of under recognized immune dysregulations especially for children. This might lead to severe consequences such as adverse reactions to vaccines demonstrating the disastrous consequences of vaccinations (Lambert and Kobliner 226).
While vaccinations might cause some side effects, these effects are negligible compared to the serious consequences that the diseases being vaccinated against might cause.
Opponents of vaccination believe that the body is able to provide protection against diseases on its own and for this reason, vaccinations are unnecessary. This belief is reinforced when the vaccination in question causes some side effects. Immunize Australia Program asserts that some vaccine-preventable diseases such as meningitis and tetanus can maim and kill the victim (1).
Vaccinating against these diseases will protect the individual from any dire consequences and avoid the complications that come along with letting the disease to develop. This argument by proponents of vaccines assumes that vaccinations are always as effective as their manufacturers claim. This is not the case for the effectiveness of vaccinations is not guaranteed and the side effects of vaccines are not always well reported on.
The supposed lack of a significant number of negative reports on the dangers of immunization can be explained by the influence that major advocates of vaccination hold in society. Null and Feldman agree that there has been a deep-seated practice of underreporting the negative impacts of vaccinations due to a collusion between the vaccine manufacturers and the federal government in an effort to limit liability and to protect the immunization programs (1).
If the public was aware of the potential damaging effects of vaccines, few would be willing to take part in the immunization programs and expose themselves to unnecessary risks. This point is corroborated by Omer et al who note that public concern about the perceived adverse events arising from vaccinations increase the incidents of vaccine refusal (1981).
Vaccinations are effective tools for the prevention and control of certain disease outbreaks that threaten the health of individuals. The preventative role of vaccines has been acknowledged by medical practitioners who hail these drugs as “the most effective tools available for preventing infectious diseases and their complications and sequelae” (Omer et al 1981).
This preventative role of vaccines has been proven historically with vaccination being used since the turn of the 19th century to contain smallpox outbreaks with positive health and economic consequences.
Vaccination of children increases their immunity and reduces their risk of acquiring the vaccine-preventable diseases. Most of the mandatory immunization is directed towards children. Opponents of vaccination assert that intensive vaccination of children exposes them to unnecessary risks. This assumption is refuted by studies, which reveal that young children are at greater risk of contracting illnesses if they do not receive vaccination in time.
One study found that children who were exempt from vaccinations were “35 times as likely to contract measles as nonexempt children” (Omer 1983). In spite of these positive attributes of vaccines, they still expose people to unnecessary risk. Use of vaccine is also unnecessary since the body is equipped to defend itself from infections without the need for vaccination.
Vaccinations help to reduce the financial burden that medical care imposes on the society. Health care professionals agree that preventative health care services are preferable to curative health care services. For this reason, people are encouraged to engage in activities that prevent diseases from occurring in the first place as opposed to seeking health care services to cure the diseases.
While vaccines have the potential of reducing the economic burden on the society, they often end up increasing this load due to the prohibitive cost of developing vaccines and the numerous number of vaccinations that individuals have to go through.
Lambert and Kobliner quip that the full childhood immunization program includes vaccinations against disease transmitted sexually or through the use of dirty hypodermic needles (306). Less expensive and less risky public health initiatives can be used to control such infections instead of relying on vaccination.
Vaccinations have become one of the most controversial medical topics addressed by medical practitioners, policy makers, and the public at large.
The debate on the topic has been hampered by a lack of extensive information on the subject. There is limited public awareness on the dangers of vaccination and most people have been socialized to believe that vaccination is a safe and effective means of preventing dangerous diseases. The big pharmaceutical companies engage in propaganda and misinformation in order to bias the public’s perception of vaccination.
Health care providers play a major role in influencing the decision of individuals concerning vaccinations and they act as the most authoritative source of information when parents are deciding on what to vaccinate their children against. Proponents of vaccination are keen to emphasize the natural means such as healthy lifestyle and maternal antibodies provided to the child through breastfeeding are insufficient in protecting against infections.
The Immunize Australia Program which is a strong advocate for vaccination states that “mothers pass on only minimal protection against infections leaving the infant vulnerable to infection if exposed to certain viruses” (15). With such kind of information being disseminated to the public, people come to believe that without vaccination, their bodies do not have sufficient immunity and they are at greater risk of disability or even death. The fear of such dangers has caused many people to embrace vaccination without questioning.
This paper has demonstrated that most of the proponents of vaccinations are people who have a vested interest in promoting vaccines such as pharmaceutical companies that profit from the manufacture of the drug.
The very fact that the greatest advocates for mandatory vaccinations are big pharmaceutical companies, which make billions of dollars from the sale of vaccinations, should cause people to question the necessity of these vaccines. Vaccines are drugs developed to prevent certain infections or diseases from afflicting human beings.
The research and development of these vaccines are carried out by huge pharmaceutical companies that stand to gain enormous profits if their drugs are approved for use by the general population and even deemed mandatory for all individuals. While vaccine makers are keen to reassure consumers that the quantities of toxic material such as mercury contained in vaccines are likely to be harmless, this is still an unnecessary risk that people do not need to expose themselves to.
This paper set out to argue that vaccinations are dangerous and unnecessary procedures that people should not be subjected to. To buttress this assertion, the paper has engaged in a discussion on the various dangers that vaccinations pose to previously healthy individuals. It began by stating that vaccinations sometimes compromise the health of previously healthy individuals without any solid benefit to justify this risk.
Vaccines also contain harmful preservatives and additives, which are harmful to the body. The paper has highlighted that the effectiveness of vaccines is not always guaranteed and the immunization programs should therefore be stopped since they do not offer the protection they promise.
A review of the alleged benefits of vaccinations has also been engaged in to provide a balanced discussion on the topic. The paper has noted that some medical professionals argue that vaccinations are safe and provide protection to the individual from many infections. The pharmaceutical companies responsible for the production and sales of vaccines also hold such claims.
These arguments in favor of vaccinations are biased and they often ignore research evidence pointing to the dangers and the irrelevance of vaccines. The paper has highlighted the financial motivation of vaccinations and conclusively demonstrated that the major advocates of vaccinations, the big pharmaceutical companies, regard vaccination as an investment and they are therefore motivated to focus on the alleged usefulness of immunization regardless of any proof to the contrary.
Big corporations have the financial resources necessary to engage in widespread national publicity in support of vaccinations. Such campaigns make the public view vaccination favorably. Vaccinations have increased the dangers to human health and escalated the cost of health care significantly. Conceivably, a world without vaccinations would be much healthier and with health care at a fraction of its present cost.
Immunize Australia Program. Myths and Realities: Responding to Arguments against Immunization. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Aging, 2008. Print.
Lambert, Beth and Kobliner Victoria. A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children. Boston: Sentient Publications, 2010. Print.
Null, Gary and Feldman Martin. Vaccination: An Updated Analysis of the Health Risks. Oct. 2007. Web.
Offit, Paul and Jew Rita. “Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Vaccines Contain Harmful Preservatives, Adjuvants, Additives, or Residuals?” Pediatrics 112.6 (2003): 1394-1401. Web.
Omer, Saad, Salmon Daniel, Orenstein Walter, Patricia Hart, and Halsey, Neal. Vaccine Refusal, “Mandatory Immunization, and the Risks of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases.” The New England Journal of Medicine, 360.19 (2009): 1981-1988. Web.
UNICEF. Vaccines bring 7 diseases under control. Jan. 1996. Web. Jan. 20. 2013.
Walene, James. Immunization: The Reality Behind the Myth. NY: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995. Print.