Vaccinations and Public Health Term Paper

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Medicine
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #3701559

Excerpt from Term Paper :

government be allowed to overrule the desires of parents when it comes to public health issues like vaccinations? Support your position

We live in the 2000s not the pre- and early '50s when polio was a disease as feared then as cancer is today. It is partially thanks to a determined and crippled president as well as to the public desire to eliminate the disease -- and to the courageous and resilient Dr. Salk -- that polio was mastered. The elimination of polio was based on one simple vaccine that had been thoroughly scientifically tested before it could be administered to even one individual. The repetitive success of the vaccine makes it a valuable and reliable intervention. Vaccines, therefore, are not only helpful but also critical interventions to eliminating and preventing national, if not global, scourges. It is the argument of this essay, therefore, that government should do all that it can to insist that unwilling parents vaccinate their children for the good of the country.

Introduction: the importance and history of vaccinations

Smallpox was the first disease for which a vaccination was successfully produced. It was introduced 1796 by the Dr. Edward Jenner, although others had originally tried and failed (Lombard & Pastoret, 2007). Louis Pasteur improved the process through his pioneering work in microbiology. Vaccinations were called so due to the work that had been done using them on cows (Latin- vacca). Smallpox had been a major disease killing at one time 20 -- 60% of infected adults, and at least 80% of infected children. It was the cancer of that period (Riedel 2005). It was finally eradicated only comparatively recently, in 1979, but by that time it had killed between 300 -- 500 million people in the 20th century alone. It was vaccinations that put an end to that (Koplow 2003).

The polio vaccine is an example of one such vaccine that was enormously effective. Poliomyelitis -- or, rather, infantile paralysis since most victims were quite young when stricken --has been around for millennia. The polio epidemic hit America four times since 1916 and each time there was a mysterious onslaught of children becoming crippled and often dying. Children were put in homes; they were buffered with iron braces; they were taunted; they lost much of their capacities by the disease. Some of them died. Families became poor trying to cure the disease and with looking after their stricken ones. One family, the movie A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America records had six of their eight children struck with polio! It was a handicap and an embarrassment. . The disease was so malignant and insidious that government combed the laboratories for response and finding none blamed it on dirt and unhygienic conditions. In desperation, the NYC government washed the streets with millions of gallons of water and killed thousands of stray cats, as they didn't know what else to do.

Fortunately, a wealthy and influential man -- later president of the country -- Mr. Franklin Delano Roosevelt received this same disease and crusaded to heal him and the country from it. Keeping his disease hidden from public eyes (he would never have been appointed president had he revealed it), he and Hugh Gallagher, the author of "Splendid Deception," and another carrier of the disease, promised rewards and promoted scientific efforts to vanquish it. It was he, too, who founded the Georgian spa called Warm Springs.

The competition lay between two scientists: Dr. Sabine and Dr. .Salk. Dr. Salk argued for using a weakened polio virus as vaccine, Dr. Sabine argued for using a dead polio virus Dr. Salk's vaccine was used, but he became ostracized when, unknown to him, new batch was used in which the virus was apparently not dead and, again, some of those immunized fell prey to polio. This was not the first time: another scientist in the early 1930s had developed a vaccination for polio but, knowing little of the condition, ended up by infecting others instead. Fortunately for us, Dr. Salk persisted and the ostracized man became a nationally and globally acclaimed man winning everlasting fame and the world's gratitude. He deserved it.

The polio vaccine has not been the only vaccination that has successfully prevented disease. Other vaccinations that have been rigorously tested and proved to prevent disease have included the influenza vaccine, the HPV vaccine, and the chicken pox vaccine (e.g. Fiore et al., 2009). Over and again, careful longitudinal and cross-sectional tests have demonstrated that vaccination is the most reliable and effective stratagem for preventing spreading of disease (e.g. American Medical Association (2000).

Why some people oppose vaccinations

Some people oppose vaccine on scientific, medical, ethical, religious, and other grounds that include protest against government interference in private concerns (Wolfe & Sharp, 2002). In the early 1990s, and ink concordance with the growing pseudo-scientific climate and the popularity of the Internet, some parents blamed the autism of their children on vaccines. One of these was Jennifer Margulis of the PBS movie The Vaccine War. Her story differs. At one time, she had reported that her son's autism was a direct result of a certain vaccination. Later on, she reported that it was the result of an accumulation of toxins of various vaccinations.

Two celebrities, Jenny McCarthy and JB Handley and two organizations, the National Vaccine Information Center and Generation Rescue, joined the bandwagon. Adding to the furor were pseudo-scientific websites and websites created by other hysterical parents who refused to inoculate their kids claiming that vaccinations contain toxins that result in autism.

In rare cases, vaccinations have injured people but the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program accords compensation for these injuries and cases are carefully looked into as well s research perpetrated to make sure they don't recur. Modern policies grant exemption for people who have medical reactions to vaccinations, compromised immune systems, or strong objections (*29). It is controversial, however, whether the latter category should be allowed especially since these objections are often premised on pseudo-scientific myths.

Criticism with parents' claims

There are various holes with the arguments of the anti-inoculators. These can be classified in the following categories:

1. Reliance on pseudo-science rather than science

The anti-inoculators have not relied on scientific research, but have rather drawn on faulty and pseudo-scientific sources for forming their opinions. For opinions to have basis, they need to be founded on as reliable and valid scientific proof as possible. These sources (the pseudo-scientific ones) are based on emotion, myth, allegation, and almost all the characteristics of faulty logical reasoning that exist.

2. Confusing cause with effect

Anti-inoculators confuse cause with effect in that they see children coming down with autism and link it to the vaccine that may have happened almost immediately preceding or at a distance form when the autism was first noticeable. However, many other factors (singly or in accumulation) could have caused the autism. Autism may be genetic; it may be hereditary; it may be environmental and so forth. It may be simply incidental that the disease was noticed when it was. In other words, it may be various other factors that caused it, and rather than blaming the vaccine and harming their children and others.

3. Failure to understand the scientific process

Drugs and vaccines go through an overly rigorous process before scientists are allowed to test them on even one individual. The process is, in fact, so strict that many have criticized it calling for greater leniency.

Anti-inoculators fail to understand, and possibly even lack knowledge of the gravitas of the scientific endeavor to ensure 100% safety with each and every one of their interventions. Their lack of knowledge is again reducible to their eager acceptance of pseudo-science and ignorance of the high standards that science places on safety and truth.

Discussion and conclusion

At one time, polio was an epidemic that scared hordes of people. Many children were affected by it; some died. Along came Dr. Salk with his vaccine and the epidemic almost disappeared. Today, parents and individuals influenced by pseudo-scientific claims are refusing to vaccinate their children. The problem with their doing so is that diseases, such as polio, may again reappear due to the fact that one or more children, even though they have been vaccinated are still susceptible to the virus carried by the unvaccinated child. These parents, in other words, are putting not only their own child but other children at risk.

The parents have some basis. Autism, in at least more than one case, seems to have emerged after the vaccination was given. Certain bodies therefore suspect that the vaccines carry toxins.

Science has, however, conducted insistent research in this and disproved their claims. Effect cannot always be rendered conclusively to certain seeming causes. By these anti-inoculates waging a crusade against inoculation in the manner that they do and preventing their children from being inoculated, they are not only harming themselves but also unwitting others.

There have been various times in the past when…

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