The topic I chose for this essay is vaccination among children. It is a controversial topic in a sense that plenty of parents and even some doctors are suspicious towards vaccination, due to the very nature of vaccination – it introduces weakened microorganisms into a child’s bloodstream in order to help develop immunity to a particular disease. Vaccination was first developed to counteract certain deadly disease like the Pox, which caused numerous deaths in the past, especially when brought to the areas of the world where the local population had no immunity to the disease. My position towards vaccination is that it should be mandatory and that the benefits of vaccination heavily outweigh the possible drawbacks both on individual and on a group level.
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Although there are plenty of premises to support my point of view, the three most prominent premises that I was able to identify are (“Should any vaccines be required for children?” n.d.):
– Vaccines can save children’s lives by making them immune or resistant to diseases that would otherwise cause great damage to their health if contracted unprepared.
– Vaccines are stated to be safe by the vast majority of medical and scientific organizations. These statements are backed by numerous randomized control trials and scientific observations.
– Adverse reactions to vaccines are extremely rare. A person is more likely to get hit by a car than having an allergy towards vaccines. Some vaccines have been known to have no adverse reactions and were deemed safe to use since the 1940s.
The opposing view to my position is that vaccines are bad and dangerous for children. This point of view is typically supported by representatives of “alternative medicine,” leaders of certain religious movements, and, in rare cases, medical research. The three premises often brought up to support this view are (“Should any vaccines be required for children?” n.d.):
– Vaccines can cause various and sometimes fatal side-effects. Some studies accept the possibility of chicken pox vaccines having an adverse effect on the health of newborn and young chicken, and development of some rare conditions.
– Vaccines contain harmful ingredients, like aluminum, thimerosal, and formaldehyde.
– Mandatory vaccination infringes upon religious freedom, as some religions forbid the use of vaccinations. This is true for Catholicism, Islam, and certain derivatives from each group.
What’s interesting about the opposing premises is that they focus mostly on side-effects of vaccinations, which can be quite grave, even if the chances of them happening are extremely low. If I were to believe the opposing premises that I mentioned above, I’d notice that the majority of the scientific community does not support my beliefs and that my opposition to vaccination lies mostly on the fact that there is a chance of adverse reactions, however slight. All three premises supporting the opposite view are true – vaccines are not infallible and can cause adverse reactions, vaccines do contain dangerous elements in small doses, and using vaccinations does come in conflict with various religious beliefs.
There are several biases that I can identify when evaluating the pro and contra arguments for this topic. First, I found the premises against vaccines to be weak, as they focused on rare singular cases rather than the larger picture. Second, I found the religious argument to be flawed at the core since I believe that parents have no right to enforce their religious beliefs on children who are too young to decide on their own. Lastly, I instinctively trusted the position supported by mainstream medical authorities due to the fact that their opposition seemed to be deeply enrooted in unscientific practices and beliefs.
My biases towards these premises largely stem from the fact that I was raised in a family that trusts and values medical science, and equates anything that is not supported by the official medical authorities either as ignorance or wilful deceit aimed at gaining profit from peoples’ doubts and fears.
After playing the Believing Game, I had to shift my position on the subject, somewhat. While the end conclusion that vaccines are good for children remained the same, the justifications for it had to change. Instead of giving the official medical research an unconditional credit of trust, I had to research the subject and see the reasons why the majority of medical specialists believed vaccines to be effective.
That position is backed by numerous incidents of success and cases of complete eradication of certain diseases like the Pox, through the use of vaccines. My validation of the position is now based on facts. In contrast, my skepticism towards the opposing point of view is now based on research done on the subject rather than distrust of the supernatural and ignorance about the possible drawbacks of vaccination. I am aware both of the drawbacks and of the fact that imposing mandatory vaccination violates certain religious rights. However, I remain convinced that the pros of child vaccination still heavily outweigh the cons.
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