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Vaccine Exemptions Up for Debate

Created Mar 09 2015, 08:00 PM by Lippincott Solutions
  • CDC
  • vaccinations
  • IOM
  • American Nurses Assocation
  • childhood vaccines
  • Institute of Medicine
  • exemptions
  • measles outbreak
  • ANA

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Vaccine Exemptions Up for Debate

Recent measles outbreaks in 18 states are prompting lawmakers in at least 10 states to make childhood vaccine exemptions more difficult to obtain, according to a recent Reuters report. The flare-ups—including the widely publicized Disneyland outbreak—have sickened more than 159 people to date, most of whom have never received the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR vaccine. 

The legislative move is drawing bipartisan support, with both Democrats and Republicans in various states introducing vaccination-promoting bills. The proposed laws differ in what they advocate (some seek to entirely eliminate philosophical and religious exemptions for vaccinations, while others aim to require schools to post their immunization rates), but they share a common mission: to make the path to vaccination exemption much tougher than it currently is. 

Although Democrats and Republicans are sharing a rare moment of unity on the need for action, the vaccine issue remains an intensely divisive one among pro-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers, who share extremely different views on the subject of vaccination. 

What Pro-Vaxxers Say

The pro-vaccination camp is the larger side of the two groups. According to a recentpoll almost 80 percent of Americans believe children should receive vaccinations. Their line of thinking is in agreement with established healthcare-related organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Nurses Association, the American Medical Association, the American School Health Association, the National Association for School Nurses, the Institute of Medicine, and the list goes on.

They believe:

  • Vaccines save lives. Thanks to vaccines, potentially fatal diseases, including polio and smallpox, have been eliminated in the United States (and, in the latter example, worldwide). Today’s vaccines are geared to protect children from current medical threats. Measles, for example, results in hospitalization for about 25% of people in the United States who get it. In about 1 case out of 1,000, it can lead to brain damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 1 to2 cases out of 1,000, it can lead to death.
  • Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are made available to the public only after they have been thoroughly reviewed and tested for both safety and effectiveness by the medical community. True, there may be some discomfort with a shot, but that’s typically the extent of the side effects most children experience. Compare that, pro-vaxxers say, with the discomfort and threat of pertussis, or whooping cough, which was up 18% in 2014 from just a year before. Pertussis often results in hospitalization of affected babies and sometimes even death. In 2012, 20 people died after coming down with this vaccine-preventable disease.  
  • Vaccines protect the public. Vaccines keep diseases at bay and out of the public square (and Disneyland). As a result, they protect people who are not able to receive immunizations themselves, such as very young infants and people with severe allergies or weakened immune systems. They can also protect future generations by completely eradicating the disease. Worried about how your child will avoid smallpox this season? Exactly…

What Anti-Vaxxers Say

Anti-vaxxers don’t have much, if any, backing from medical or government establishments. But that doesn’t bother them, as they tend to view large groups telling them how to take care of their children with suspicion.

Their beliefs are widespread but, in general, many anti-vaxxers tend to believe:

  • Vaccines cause autism. While the medical community continues to emphasize that any link between vaccines and autism has been proven again and again to be false, anti-vaxxers simply don’t buy it. Citing the aluminum, thimerosal and other ingredients found in vaccines, they maintain it’s actually harmful injecting that stuff (not to mention disease) into their children’s bodies. Doing so has caused dangerous and life-altering side effects in previously healthy children, they add, so why would any informed parent chose to vaccinate?
  • Big Pharmacy markets vaccines for one reason only: to get bigger. Anti-vaxxers are generally not fans of the pharmaceutical industry. Many believe that drug manufacturers have bought the support of the government in their huge scam to strong arm the public into purchasing their vaccines and filling their already massive bank accounts. Anti-vaxxers are adamant that their children will not be pawns in such a sick scheme and prefer, in some cases, to inoculate their children through natural exposure to disease.
  • No one has the right to require my child to get a vaccination. The decision of whether to vaccinate or not should belong to parents alone, they say. One nurse practitioner, who declined to share her name with a reporter because she feared professional retribution, pulled her son out of school after she was denied the freedom to exempt him from required hepatitis B and flu immunizations. “It’s completely unfair,” she told a reporter, “and it’s ridiculous and a violation of the Constitution.”

Regardless of what side of the debate you fall onto, the enforcement of vaccination is sure to remain a relevant issue in today’s political and healthcare climate until decisive steps are taken in either direction.

 

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