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Articles / Medicine and Biology

A child’s health and well-being is the primary concern of any parent, as such it is no surprise that many parents are mindful of any medical treatments these children require. There are few topics in pediatric medicine that have drawn greater attention than that of vaccination.

This debate reached a pinnacle with the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, which killed over 18,000 people and infected over 1.6 million in less than one year.

Although there exists a difference between routine childhood vaccinations and those hastily assembled during a crisis, many of the debated issues were the same in both cases: What are the potential side effects? Do vaccines cause autism? And the most common of all – do the benefits outweigh the risks?

In this article we will address these key issues (and several more) and try to conclusively answer the question “Should I vaccinate my child?”

Kids today can receive up to 35 shots before they are six years old.  These include hepatitis B, rotavirus, diptheria, tetanus and many more – some of which require followup doses later in life.

Although this may seem like a lot, 16 diseases are preventable in children via vaccinations.

Center for Disease Control

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that some communities, like Ashland Oregon, have an unusually large number of parents that do not vaccinate their children (28% in the previously stated town). This situation is becoming more common in the developed world and is outright dangerous for their town and our society as a whole.

One of those little known benefits of any organism living in large communities is a phenomenon known as “herd immunity“. To put it simply, when most people in a group are vaccinated, the chances of the disease surviving to find an unvaccinated person drastically goes down.

To our grandparents and our parents, who saw first hand the horror of these diseases, vaccination was a lot easier choice. From the perspective of our generation (who has never seen a child struck down from polio) it would seem that we are taking companies on faith that there is a benefit to putting their chemicals into our bodies. Take a look at some photos of developing world (if you have the stomach for it) as polio is currently undergoing a resurgence in Africa.

African Children Suffering From Polio

If you have ever seen the horrifying footage of a child struggling to breathe after the onset of whooping cough than you would have no doubts that this enemy is real.

Most of those reading this article will have had chicken pox (historically seen as a normal phase of childhood) but it is now completely preventable. For most of us chicken pox was an irritating but mild illness, but few people realize that it led to over 10,000 hospitalizations a year.

In 1995 the US government made available a vaccine for chicken pox and, after making the shots mandatory in 41 of 50 states, the rate of infection dropped from 4 million cases per year to approximately 400,000 and is expected to drop further. Although 4% of those who receive the dose can contract a mild rash, only .001% of people have had severe side effects and there has not been a single death linked to the vaccine itself in over 40 million doses.

Chicken Pox Infection

When traveling to remote and exotic destinations we find it commonsense that we need to get additional immunizations. Why, in an age where you/your illnesses can cross the globe in hours, do we have trouble believing some of these diseases will find their way into our homes? Nobody is saying that you should take/give your children every vaccine on the global market, but the ones offered in your area are likely tailored to the diseases that pose a risk in your nation/region.

Some celebrities have taken the public spotlight for claiming that the Measles, Mumps and Rubella injections (MMR) cause autism, but their claims can easily be thrown out once you look at the vast range of studies that have been performed around the world.

The largest of these studies was conducted in Denmark, where investigators reviewed the health records of 537,000 children, born from 1991 until 1998. This study conclusively found that there was no difference in the autism rates of children who received the MMR vaccine and those who did not.

Don’t take our word for it, click here to see the information for yourself.

The reason parents can incorrectly associate autism with vaccination is due to the typical age the condition develops. Autism primarily strikes when a child’s brain development hits a certain point, which happens to lie in the first few years of age. This also happens to be the same time period that a child will hit the physical development point that enables them to be safely vaccinated.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine

Although the idea of injections causing autism may seem sound to your personal intuition, you can’t ignore the results of a study that reviewed over half a million children, let alone the plethora of other studies in this field.  Just because you do two things in the same year, it does not mean they have any impact on each other (as the aforementioned experiment has proven).

So, should you vaccinate your children?

In the end the choice is obviously yours, but just keep an open mind and don’t blindly buy into media hype. News outlets need to sell papers or deliver viewers to their ads and the easiest way to achieve this is to fuel controversy and to instill public fear.

If you are wondering whether or not to immunize your child, do some research on your own. Visit the sources linked to in this article, or look up the symptoms of the disease in question.

Just keep in mind – the most common reactions from a shot will fade over a day or so; the horrific effects from a disease like polio can scar your child for life.

Smiling Child

Written by: Ben Lovatt

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