TheUse of Vaccines
TheUse of Vaccines
Theuse of vaccines to enhance the strength of the natural immune systemhas been a source of controversy for many years. While one camp holdsthat vaccines protect people from preventable diseases, the othercamp believes that vaccines have components that might harm patients.The history of immunization can be traced back to the 1790s whenEdward Jenner developed a vaccine for smallpox, but the universalframework for immunization of all children was established in 1974(Barnighausen, Bloom, Canning, Levine, Friedman, O’Brien &Walker, 2011). The stakeholders in the health care sector have playedtheir role of teaching people about the benefits of vaccinationthrough campaigns, civic education, and health promotion programs,but still 26 % of the children in the contemporary world miss atleast one type of vaccination (Barnighausen etal.,2011). This suggests that there are people who support and others whooppose the use of vaccines. In this paper, the arguments for andagainst the use of vaccines will be discussed, which will lead to aconclusion on whether immunization should continue or not.
Roleof vaccines in saving lives
Theuse of vaccines saves the lives of millions of people, especiallychildren from preventable diseases. The primary goal of immunizationis to increase the capacity of the body’s immune system to fightspecific diseases. It is estimated that the use of vaccines savesbetween six million and nine million lives every year (Lee, Rosenthal& Scheffler, 2013). In addition, vaccines have reduced the riskof the occurrence of epidemics of preventable diseases. According toLee, Rosenthal & Scheffler (2013) the United States haveexperienced a more than 95 % decrease in cases of preventablediseases that mainly affect children. Viruses, bacteria, and othertypes of pathogen cannot be eliminated from the environment, whichmakes it reasonable to immunize the body to fight the disease-causingmicroorganisms.
Althoughthe idea that the vaccines prevent diseases is supported bystatistical evidence, there are other studies that have linkedimmunization with severe side effects. Some of the components ofvaccines increase the risk of suffering from diseases, other than theone that the client has been immunized against. For example, studieshave shown that the influenza vaccine result in between one and twocases of Gullain-BarreSyndrome(GBS) in every one million people who get vaccinated (WHO, 2012). Thevaccine is linked with small, but statistically increased risk of thepatents’ hospitalization as a result of GBS and other adverse sideeffects.
Theuse of vaccines has played a critical role in the eradication ofdiseases that used to kill millions of people. For example, the smallpox killed thousands of people in the early 20thcentury, but it has been eradicated completely. Today, children areno longer immunized against smallpox in some states because thedisease does not exist. Studies show that the U.S. experienced 16,316polio-related deaths and 29,000 smallpox-related deaths every yearduring the first half the 20thcentury, but there was no single case of either of these diseasesreported in 2012 (Center for Disease Control, 2011). This confirmsthat vaccines will continue eliminating some of the killer diseasesin the world.
Theopponents of the idea of vaccination hold that the major diseasesthat are targeted by immunization programs have become rare. Forexample, the United States reported zero cases of diphtheria from2003 to 2011 and less than 10 cases of tetanus-related deaths betweenthe years 1994 and 2011 (CDC, 2011). However, some of these vaccinesare still administered to children. It is uneconomical to administervaccines to millions of children against diseases that no longerexist.
Protectionof the future generation
Theuse of vaccines has become a critical tool that is being used toreduce cases of birth defects and prevent infection of the unbornchildren. Currently, there are several vaccines that are prescribedfor the expectant mothers, which lower the probability of theirchildren suffering from different conditions. For example, theoutbreak of rubella resulted in the death of about 11,000 and theoccurrence of birth defects in approximately 20,000 children in theUnited States in 1963-1965 (Georgia Department of Public Health,2016). However, there are no serious cases of rubella outbreak thathave been reported since 1969, when rubella vaccine was licensed.Parents who are vaccinated against rubella have a limited chance ofpassing the virus to their newborns or the unborn children, whichprotects the future generation from preventable infections. Althoughthe idea of using vaccines to protect the future generation issupported by statistical evidence, its opponents hold that therelationship between the government officials and the drugmanufacturers result in the licensing of unnecessary vaccines that are alleged to protect the lives of the unborn.
Therisk of developing new strains of pathogens
Althoughit is widely believed that vaccines protect people from numerousdiseases, the safety of the products used in the process ofimmunization has been a key source of controversy. For example,people who oppose the use of vaccines hold that the use of liveattenuated vaccines increases the risk of developing virulent strainsof pathogens that one has been immunized against (UK Health Center,2016). Although developers of vaccines select strains of bacteria orvirus with characteristics that are beneficial to human beings, thereis a high risk of mutation that could result in the development ofmore contagious forms of microbes. This notion is supported by thefact that microorganisms mutate within a short period. However, veryfew cases of mutation have been reported.
Theuse of vaccines has more benefits to the current and the futuregenerations than the alleged risks. The use of vaccines should beencouraged because it saves the lives of the people and reduce therisk of suffering from preventable diseases. Most importantly,vaccines have helped the stakeholders in the health care sectoreradicate some diseases (such as the smallpox) from the world.Although the use of live vaccines increases the risk of developmentof more virulent strains, companies that are authorized to producevaccines are monitored by established organizations, such as the WHOand FDA. This ensures that the drug manufacturers only releaseeffective and harmless vaccines. In addition, the opponents of theidea of vaccination who hold that there is no need of immunizingpeople against diseases that have become rare are mistaken. This isbecause the pathogens responsible for the occurrence of thesediseases still exist in the environment, but they cannot infectpeople who are already immunized. Therefore, stopping immunizationwill result in the recurrence of epidemics.
Barnighausen,T., Bloom, E., Canning, D., Levine, S., Friedman, A., O’Brien, J.,& Walker, D. (2011). Rethinking the benefits and costs ofchildhood vaccination: The examples of the Haemophilusinfluenzaetype b vaccination. Vaccine,29, 2371-2380.
Centerfor Disease Control (2011). Achievementsin public health, 19900-1999 impact of vaccines universallyrecommended for children: United States, 1990-1998.Washington, DC: CDC.
GeorgiaDepartment of Public Health (2016). Rubella. GeorgiaDepartment of Public Health.Retrieved June 15, 2016, from http://dph.georgia.gov/rubella
Lee,E., Rosenthal, L. & Scheffler, G. (2013). Theeffect of childhood vaccine exemptions on disease outbreak.Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.
UKHealth Center (2016). Advantages of disadvantages of live vaccines.UKHealth Center.Retrieved June 15, 2016, fromhttp://www.healthcentre.org.uk/vaccine/advantages-disadvantages-live-vaccinations.html
WHO(2012). Informationsheet, observed rate of vaccine reactions: Influenza vaccine.Geneva: WHO.