Issue and Thesis Statements
Ever since its first documentation, vaccination has reshaped the perception and landscape of human health. Despite the fact that many healthcare organizations support vaccination claiming its effectiveness, there is no mandatory vaccination for children. Many Americans remain skeptical about the safety of vaccines questioning the positive effects of immunization. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccination is capable of preventing more than 21 million hospitalizations and 723,000 deaths among children (“Report Shows” par. 1). Nevertheless, no US laws mandate vaccination, but certain vaccinations are required by states. The anti-vaccination movement argues that vaccination should not be mandatory since it poses a threat to children and may lead to severe diseases, including autism, diabetes, and ADHD. However, lobbying attempts of anti-vaccination should be rejected because vaccines are effective against diseases and safe, they can save children’s lives, and side-effects of vaccines are minor.
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Opponent’s First Claim
Those who claim that vaccination should not be mandatory offer several reasons which, upon close investigation, appear to be non-substantial. Opponents of vaccination argue that vaccines can cause serious and sometimes fatal side-effects (Hussain et al. 2920). It should be stated that this argument is true only to some extent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any vaccine can have side-effects, though they are minor and last only several days (“Making the Vaccine Decision” par. 1). However, the decision not to immunize a child involves much greater risk. It is not only an unvaccinated child who is at risk of having a disease but also other children who contact with such a child. Opponents of vaccination doubt the safety of vaccination, but their perception of side-effects does not correspond to reality.
Opponent’s Second Claim
Another argument used by proponents of anti-vaccination is that vaccines contain harmful ingredients that trigger serious illnesses. In particular, scientists claim that thimerosal, an organic mercury compound that is found in flu vaccine for children, can lead to the development of autism (Kern et al. 8). However, there is a number of studies that found no link between vaccination and an increased risk of autism, even for those who are at risk of having the disorder (Jain et al. 1539). Moreover, one could assume that the reason for such a faulty association between vaccines and autism is that autism generally develops at the age of 2-3 years when children are commonly vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the only childhood vaccines that contain thimerosal are flu vaccines (“Making the Vaccine Decision” par. 15). However, thimerosal is used as a preservative, and its amount is so tiny that it poses no threat. Still, minor reactions, such as redness and swelling, may occur.
Opponent’s Third Claim
One more argument used by opponents of anti-vaccination is that the government should not intervene in medical choices, and mandatory vaccination infringes upon religious freedoms (Pierik 381). It is thus assumed that parents of children are the only ones who can take decisions regarding the immunization of their children. The nature of such decisions is intimately personal, which is why they cannot be taken by the government. Also, there are religions that prohibit vaccination, and any infringement upon religious freedoms is unconstitutional (“First Amendment”). However, one could mention that parents may not have appropriate expertise to take such a decision and thus subject their child to the risk of acquiring vaccine-preventable infection. Speaking of religious freedom, there are states that allow individuals to apply for religious exemptions.
Author’s First Claim
Having looked at the opponents’ arguments, it is important to consider the arguments in favor of mandatory vaccination. Firstly, vaccination can save children’s lives and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Benefits of vaccination outweigh its potential risks and include child protection from contracting preventable diseases (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Recommended Vaccinations by Age” par. 2). The number of these preventable diseases is vast and includes chickenpox, flu, rotavirus, rubella, whooping cough, and diphtheria. Because of vaccination, such diseases as smallpox and polio have been eradicated. According to the National Health Service, due to immunization, there has been a 99% reduction in cases of meningitis C among those aged under 20 (par. 13). Comparing to the twentieth century, the number of reported cases of diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, and tetanus has decreased to 92-100% in 2016 (Orenstein and Ahmed 4032). Therefore, vaccination protect not only individuals but also the whole community from disease, thus avoiding its spread.
Author’s Second Claim
Secondly, it should be stated that the ingredients in vaccines are safe in the amounts used. Even though vaccines contain aluminum and formaldehyde, these chemical compounds are used in small dosages which do not have a negative effect on one’s health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Vaccines” par. 2). Also, vaccines that are routinely recommended by healthcare organization contain no thimerosal or only trace amounts (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Vaccines” par. 5). Adverse reactions to vaccines are thus extremely rare and are mild in nature, such as allergic reactions. In order to ensure that vaccines and their ingredients are safe, vaccines are tested and regularly monitored by healthcare organizations before they are licensed.
Author’s Third Claim
Thirdly, vaccination is supported by a great number of major organizations. These organizations include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Food and Drug Administration, American Academy of Pediatrics, Public Health Agency of Canada, and National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the main ingredients of vaccines are antigens that cause the body to develop immunity (“Making the Vaccine Decision” par. 14). All the ingredients of vaccines either help make a vaccine or ensure that it poses no threat to children’s health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Making the Vaccine Decision” par. 16). According to the World Health Organization, children should be regularly vaccinated since vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system in order to protect a child from infections (par. 1). It can be seen that vaccination is widely supported by organizations due to its effectiveness and safety.
Based on all above-said, vaccination is a great cost-effective preventative health intervention. It is difficult to overestimate the value of immunization in preventing and controlling a vast number of infectious diseases. Effectiveness of vaccination programs has led to the absence of outbreaks of certain preventable diseases that had fatal consequences for previous generations. Not only does vaccination protect children from preventable infections but it also reduces the chances that other children will catch this infection. Safety of vaccines is reiterated by the safety of its ingredients and the necessity of official certification. It is thus important that parents vaccinate their children because their health and health of the community is at stake.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Making the Vaccine Decision.” CDC, 2019, Web.
“Recommended Vaccinations by Age.” CDC, 2016, Web.
“Vaccines: Vac-Gen/Additives in Vaccines.” CDC, 2018, Web.
“First Amendment.” Cornell Law School, 2017, Web.
Hussain, Azhar, et al. “The Anti-Vaccination Movement: A Regression in Modern Medicine.” Cureus, vol. 10, no. 7, 2018, pp. 2919–2927.
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Jain, Anjali, et al. “Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among US Children with Older Siblings with and Without Autism.” JAMA, vol. 313, no. 15, 2015, pp. 1534–1540.
Kern, Janet K., et al. “The Relationship Between Mercury and Autism: A Comprehensive Review and Discussion.” Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, vol. 37, 2016, pp. 8–24.
National Health Service. “How Vaccination Saves Lives.” NHS, 2016, Web.
Orenstein, Walter A., and Rafi Ahmed. “Simply Put: Vaccination Saves Lives.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114, no. 16, 2017, pp. 4031–4033.
Pierik, Roland. “Mandatory Vaccination: An Unqualified Defence.” Journal of Applied Philosophy, vol. 35, no. 2, 2016, pp. 381–398.
World Health Organization. “10 Facts on Immunization.” WHO, 2018, Web.