Shots for Tots: Understanding the Debate Over Baby Vaccinations

Pregnancy can be a time of profound joy. You have great expectations. You carefully plan the nursery, buy tiny baby clothes and arrange bottles and sippy cups in the cupboard. It seems the most difficult decision to make is whether or not to learn your baby’s sex before birth. However, another increasingly controversial decision you must make is choosing to vaccinate your baby—or not.

Proponents of vaccination say it is safe and is one of the greatest health advances of the 20th century. They say illnesses are prevented and millions of children’s lives are saved, and they point out that adverse reactions are rare. Opponents, on the other hand, contend that children’s immune systems can naturally deal with many infections. They say that injecting questionable and even objectionable ingredients into a child’s body may cause extreme side effects, including seizures, paralysis and death, and that vaccines can trigger serious problems such as autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, and diabetes. So who is right?

Female doctor makes a vaccination to a child.

Female doctor makes a vaccination to a child.

The Argument for Vaccines

There are some top points used by each side of this debate to make their cases. Here are key arguments for vaccinating your child.

Vaccines can save children’s lives. Organizations quote lots of statistics to prove that vaccines are necessary. Vaccines are estimated to be 90 percent to 99 percent effective in preventing disease, and the Centers for Disease Control state that approximately 732,000 American children were kept from dying and 322 million childhood illnesses were prevented from 1994 to 2014 due to vaccinations.

Medical organizations say that vaccines are safe. Many large American medical organizations state that vaccines pose no danger to children. The World Health Organization and several major Canadian health agencies also are public proponents of vaccines.

Vaccine ingredients are safe. Medical professionals say that vaccine ingredients such as formaldehyde, aluminum and thimerosal, a mercury compound, are used in small amounts, and they are perfectly fine to inject into children’s bodies. Physicians say that mothers expose their children to more aluminum with their breast milk than vaccines contain.

Adverse reactions to vaccines are rare. Medical professionals say that the most common side effect from vaccines, a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, happens with one in several hundred thousand or million vaccinations. Physicians state that vaccines do not cause diseases or complicated, long-term medical conditions.

Vaccines protect the herd. Physicians, who refer to the general population as the herd, say that a critical portion must be vaccinated in order to provide general herd immunity to various diseases. The medical community states that individuals who cannot be vaccinated due to age, compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy have, or other reasons rely on herd immunity for their protection against diseases.

Vaccines save money. Medical organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control state that vaccines are cheaper than parents having to take time off work to care for sick children. Furthermore, they state that vaccinations also save society money. This argument comes down to “time is money.”

Vaccines protect future generations. Medical organizations state that vaccinated mothers have a decreased chance of passing diseases such as rubella, also known as German measles, to their unborn children, which reduces the chance of associated birth defects occurring.

Vaccines have eradicated some diseases. Medical professionals say that a vaccine has eliminated smallpox, with the last noted case around the globe appearing in 1977 in Somalia. Polio cases have dropped dramatically, as have the number of outbreaks of other diseases, including mumps, diphtheria and measles.

Disease has not disappeared entirely, so vaccines are still needed. The Centers for Disease Control says a number of diseases that can be prevented by vaccines are still present around the world, and so vaccinations should continue. Such diseases include paralytic polio, rotavirus, pneumococcus (the virus that causes meningitis, pneumonia and blood infections), measles, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough).

The Argument Against Vaccines

For all of the arguments in favor of vaccines, there are just as many strong grounds for opposing vaccination.

Vaccines can cause serious and sometimes fatal reactions. The Centers for Disease Control admits that vaccines do carry life-threatening risks of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, to about one child in every million. The rotavirus vaccine can cause a bowel blockage that requires hospitalization. The diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus vaccine and the MMR vaccine may cause long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness and permanent brain damage. Pneumonia may be triggered by the chicken pox virus, and the flu vaccine may cause a condition in which the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.

Vaccines contain dangerous and harmful ingredients. Thimerosal, a mercury compound, is linked to autism. Aluminum can cause neurological damage. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and may cause other serious side effects, up to convulsions, coma and death. Glutaraldehyde, used to disinfect medical and dental equipment, can cause asthma and other respiratory problems. Some vaccines contain 2-phenoxyethanol, an antibacterial that irritates skin and eyes and can cause shock, headache, convulsions, kidney damage, cardiac and kidney failure, and death.

Vaccines can contain ingredients some people consider objectionable and even immoral. Some common vaccines are cultivated in cells from two fetuses aborted in the 1960s (listed as MRC-5 and Wl-38 on package inserts). Some of these vaccines and other common vaccines are made with animal products, such as Cocker Spaniel cells, chicken eggs, bovine casein, insect cells, pig gelatin, and African Green monkey cells.

The government should not intervene in personal medical choices. There is firm belief that medical decisions for children should be left to parents or caregivers. Barbara Low Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, said, “If the State can tag, track down, and force citizens against their will to be injected with biological products of known and unknown toxicity today, there will be no limit on which individual freedoms the State can take away in the name of the greater good tomorrow.”

Vaccines are unnatural, and natural immunity is more effective and lasting than vaccination. Even those in favor of general vaccinations admit that vaccines are artificial and introduce actual toxins into the bloodstream, and that natural immunity is more complete and longer lasting.

The pharmaceutical companies, Federal Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control should not be trusted to produce and regulate safe vaccines. The purpose of pharmaceutical companies is to make and sell drugs for profit. The relationship between vaccine makers and public health and government officials is questionable, at best. There are several high profile instances where vaccines were rushed onto the market, only to be pulled after claims that they caused serious health damage. One such case is a vaccine for Lyme disease that was approved by the Federal Drug Administration and marketed for four years. It was removed only after multiple class action lawsuits were filed due to a chance that it contributed to the onset of autoimmune arthritis.

The debate over whether or not you should vaccinate your baby is volatile and ongoing. No one group or individual has the correct answer. Vaccines may have reduced the instance of some diseases appearing in the population, but they also carry many serious risks, from the actual cultivated disease strains they introduce into the body to the plethora of toxins in vaccine formulas. You can make the best choice for your baby by educating yourself on the pros and cons of vaccination so that, in the end, you make an informed decision. For more important information and advice from devoted parents, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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