ChildhoodVaccines – Help or Hurt?
Informeddecisions on whether childhood vaccines are of more good than harm tothe recipient (child) or vice versa, require vital understanding on what a vaccine is, its mode of action and any probable risksassociated with its administration on children (Young, 2010 ).
Normally,when germs enter the body, the immune system detects these germs asforeign bodies or antigens. In response to antigen presence, theimmune system produces fighter genes or antibodies to counter attackthis invasion and prevent colonization of healthy body cells by theintruding antigens that may cause infections. Vaccines are made fromweakened versions of disease causing antigens. The weakened antigensonly stimulate creation of relevant antibodies by the immune systembut do not result in actual infections (Offit & Moser, 2011). Theresultant antibodies serve as bodyguards in case of future exposureto the disease.
Withthat in mind, it is possible to objectively look at vaccination andweigh the options so as to clear the controversy surrounding thematter factually. To begin with, preventive care is the base ofpediatric care with vaccination being one of the most vitalstrategies for disease control in children. Immunization has seenchild mortality drop significantly over the past century withdiseases like smallpox being completely eliminated globally whileothers such as polio, diphtheria and congenital rubella have beencompletely eradicated in North America. Some deadly diseases likemeasles, haemophilus influenza B and pertussis (whooping cough) areno longer life-threatening around the world all thanks toimmunizations (Offit & Moser, 2011).
Inaddition, the centre for disease control and prevention (CDC) hascome out clear on the need for vaccination in children for variousdiseases. The State has also backed the idea by continually fundingimmunization as part of its public health obligation. This has comewith adequate research on the safety of such vaccines and their needfor healthy child growth and development. Experts on infectiousdiseases also propose vaccination as a way to create herd immunity ina community which requires about 90% immunization within thepopulation. Herd immunity ensures that fresh disease outbreaks do notlead to detrimental susceptibility levels. Children face the greatestrisk in case of such outbreaks if not immunized or are below theimmunizable age bracket. The increasing global village phenomena haveseen infected people move from disease prone areas to other areascausing unexpected outbreaks (Roberts, 1998). For this reason childimmunization needs to be enhanced to curb the risk of diseaserecurrence over time with continuous population growth.
Immunizationhas seen more children grow to productive ages at which they are ableto contribute to the National Gross Income hence playing a major rolesociety growth and development. Immunization reduces deformity ordeath and ensures adequate manpower from one generation to anotherwhich is an integral part of development strategies. This benefitsthe economy a great deal by cutting on losses and maximizing gains atall times (Offit & Moser, 2011).
Nevertheless,child immunization has been faced with great misconception by part ofthe society due to several reasons. To begin with, inaccurate andnon-fact based information presented by the media to the public hasseen more people doubt the need for child immunization even with thescientific evidence that clearly stands separate from myths. The fearof adverse side effects from vaccine administration has resulted inmany parents dismissing the idea of child immunization. CDC pointsout clearly that any vaccine has the potential to cause side effectson its victim sometimes leading to loss of life. However, adequateresearch on the same has shown that very minimal or no cases of suchside effects have been reported concerning available child vaccines.This serves as green light for continuous immunization of infants forthe greater good.
Thechemical composition of vaccines has also been doubted to containcompounds that can cause detrimental health risks such as Timerosal,an organic mercury in a flu vaccine that is linked to autism andaluminium which can cause neurological harm. Fomaldehyde is alsoanother carcinogenic component of some vaccines. However, theseelements are used in trace proportions that are of negligible effectin vaccines. It is also worth noting that breast milk contains morealuminium than a vaccine. The growing environments for childrenexpose them to more harmful elements than any known vaccine hence,immunization presents more good than harm to a child’s health(Young, 2010).
Theconstant believe that natural immunity is the best option for alldiseases has also exposed more children to life threatening infectionwith the hope that those who survive are better protected. Thisideology however true it is has exposed the society to greater infantmortality rates that can be adequately controlled by immunization.Since artificial immunity develops faster compared to the naturaltype, immunization is a necessary evil for the sake of child healthsince most infants may succumb to diseases if left to fight naturallyfor survival (Offit & Moser, 2011).
Inconclusion, child immunizations stand out as the greatest opportunityfor reducing infant mortality and enhancing by eradicating lifethreatening childhood diseases that are evident across all walks oflife. It is therefore a necessary evil that has to be maintained forthe greater good of the society and future of any community. However,medical practitioners should always strive to keep at par with anyemerging issues concerning vaccine development to ensure safety ofthe recipients. In addition, the media should play a centre role insensitizing the society to embrace child immunization rather thanpainting a negative image of the same. Change of individual orcommunity misconceptions too is vital if the infants are to receiveadequate medical care including immunization. Childhood immunizationsare beyond any reasonable doubt a help to child growth anddevelopment.
Offit,P. A., & Moser, C. A. (2011). Vaccines & your child:Separating fact from fiction. New York: Columbia University Press.
Roberts,M. A. (1998). Child versus childmaker: Future persons and presentduties in ethics and the law. Lanham, Md. [u.a.: Rowman &Littlefield.
Young,L. (2010). The everything parent`s guide to vaccines: Balanced,professional advice to help you make the best decision for yourchild. Avon, Mass: Adams Media.