Vaccines
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Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children?
Vaccines
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all vaccines to ensure safety and effectiveness. No federal laws mandating vaccination exist, but all 50 states require certain vaccinations (exemptions allowed) for children entering public schools.

Proponents argue that vaccination is safe and one of the greatest health developments of the 20th century. They point out that illnesses, including rubella, diphtheria, and whooping cough, which once killed thousands of infants annually are now prevented by vaccination. They contend that anti-vaccination studies are often faulty, biased, and misleading.

Opponents argue that children’s immune systems can deal with most infections naturally, and that the possible side effects of vaccination, including seizures, paralysis, and death, are not worth the risk of safeguarding against non-life threatening illnesses. They contend that numerous studies prove that vaccines may trigger problems like autism, ADHD, and multiple sclerosis. Read more...

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Vaccines ProCon.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit website that presents research, studies, and pro and con statements on questions related to whether or not vaccines should be required for children.
Did You Know?
  1. All 50 states require vaccinations for children entering public schools even though no mandatory federal vaccination laws exist. All 50 states issue medical exemptions, 48 states (excluding Mississippi and West Virginia) permit religious exemptions [1], and 20 states allow an exemption [32] for philosophical reasons.

  2. Over 5,500 cases alleging a causal relationship between vaccinations and autism have been filed under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in the US Court of Federal Claims between 2001 and 2009. [21]

  3. The US Court of Federal Claims Office of Special Masters, between 1988 and 2009, has awarded compensation to 1,322 families whose children suffered brain damage from vaccines. [22]

  4. About 30,000 cases of adverse reactions to vaccines have been reported annually to the federal government since 1990, with 13% classified as serious, meaning associated with permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness, or death. [23]

  5. According to a 2003 report by researchers at the Pediatric Academic Society, childhood vaccinations in the US prevent about 10.5 million cases of infectious illness and 33,000 deaths per year. [2]
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Pro & Con Arguments: "Should any vaccines be required for children?"
PRO Vaccines
  1. Vaccination should be required for children. No individual should have the right to risk the health of the public solely for the purpose of satisfying their personal moral, philosophical, or religious views.

  2. Vaccines can eradicate disease and prevent serious illness and death. Mandatory vaccination has eradicated diseases that once killed thousands of children, such as polio and smallpox. According to researchers at the Pediatric Academic Society, childhood vaccinations in the US prevent about 10.5 million cases of infectious illness and 33,000 deaths per year. [2]

  3. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most childhood vaccines are 90-99% effective in preventing disease. When children who have been vaccinated do contract a disease, despite being vaccinated against it, they usually have milder symptoms with less serious complications than an un-vaccinated child that gets the same disease. [3]

  4. Since some individuals that have been vaccinated may still get sick when exposed to infected individuals, 75% - 94% [33] of the population (depending on the disease) must be vaccinated to acheive "herd immunity." When herd immunity is achieved the number of immunized individuals is high enough to prevent the spread of disease through the population. [4]

  5. The risks of not being vaccinated far outweigh the small risks associated with vaccination. Preventable diseases like measles and mumps can cause permanent disability and death. In 1991 an outbreak of measles in an unvaccinated group of children in Philadelphia caused seven deaths. Children infected with the mumps can become permanently deaf. [5] Although a very small number of deaths from the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine have been reported), [34] the most common adverse reactions are minor soreness and or fever.

  6. Even when diseases seem to no longer exist, outbreaks can still occur if children are not vaccinated. In Boulder, CO, fear over possible side effects of the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine [6] led many parents to refuse vaccination for their children causing Boulder to have the lowest school-wide vaccination rate in Colorado for whooping cough and one of the highest rates of whooping cough in the US as of 2002. [7]

  7. Because children and infants are more vulnerable to the swine flu (H1N1 virus) they should be required to take the FDA-approved vaccine to prevent illness and possible death. [8]

  8. The claim that vaccines cause autism is false. Many studies, including one by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, reject the hypothesis that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative in vaccines, causes autism [9]. On Mar. 12, 2010, in the case of Mead v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, [35] the US Court of Federal Claims ruled that the "theory of vaccine-related causation [of autism] is scientifically unsupportable."

  9. Children should be required to receive vaccination against hepatitis B. The disease can cause inflammation of the liver leading to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver or cancer. The World Health Organization recommends that hepatitis B vaccination be a part of universal childhood vaccination programs. Reports that the hepatitis B vaccine may cause multiple sclerosis have been refuted by many published studies. [10]

  10. Girls between the ages of 11 and 12 should be required to get the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine because it protects against four strains of HPV - two of which cause cervical cancer. In the US, cervical cancer is the second leading cancer killer of women, with 10,000 women diagnosed each year, and 3,700 dying from the disease (as of 2009). The HPV vaccine can stop these deaths and should be given to all girls before they become sexually active and have the potential to contract HPV. [11]

  11. Vaccines should be required because they produce significant economic benefits for society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every $1 spent on vaccination saves the public $6.30 in medical costs [36] that would result from having to treat unvaccinated diseased individuals.

  12. Children should be vaccinated against rotavirus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) both recommend the vaccine. According to the WHO, nearly every child is infected by a rotavirus by the time he/she is 5 years old, and the virus is the leading cause of severe dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea in children younger than 5 worldwide. [60] The CDC estimates that rotavirus caused approximately 453,000 infant deaths globally, maining in developing countries, and 20 to 60 deaths of children under 5 years old per year in the United States before the vaccine was introduced. [61] Without the vaccination, roatvirus hospitalized 55,000 to 70,000 children in the United States per year; with the vaccine, the number of hospitalizations has been reduced by 80%. [62] The CDC also estimates the rotavirus vaccine prevents more than 400,000 doctor visits per year. [61]




 

CON Vaccines
  1. Governments should not have the right to intervene in the health decisions parents make for their children. 31% of parents [37] believe they should have the right to refuse mandated school entry vaccinations for their children, according to a 2010 survey by the University of Michigan.

  2. Many parents hold religious beliefs against vaccination. Forcing such parents to vaccinate their children would violate the 1st Amendment which guarantees citizens the right to the free exercise of their religion.

  3. Vaccines are often unnecessary in many cases where the threat of death from disease is small. During the early nineteenth century, mortality for the childhood diseases whooping cough, measles, and scarlet fever fell drastically before immunization became available. This decreased mortality has been attributed to improved personal hygiene, water purification, effective sewage disposal, and better food hygiene and nutrition. [12]

  4. Vaccines interfere with natural law and God's plan for humanity. Disease is a natural occurrence, and humans should not interfere with its trajectory.

  5. Common childhood vaccinations may cause rare yet serious reactions [38] including anaphylactic shock, paralysis, and sudden death. This risk is not worth taking, especially considering most diseases vaccinated against are not necessarily life threatening.

  6. Vaccines can trigger auto-immune disorders such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), and other disorders. [13]

  7. Vaccines can cause brain inflammation (encephalopathy) which can lead to death or permanent brain damage and disorders such as autism, ADD/ADHD, and other developmental problems. [14] In addition, the vaccine additive thimerosal (found in most pre-1999 vaccines) has been associated specifically with the development of autism and is still found in certain meningococcal, tetanus, and flu vaccines such as the H1N1 vaccine. [39]

  8. Vaccines clog and disrupt the lymphatic system with large foreign protein molecules (the active ingredients contained within vaccines) which may lead to lymphatic cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. [15]

  9. All vaccines cause immune system suppression, and can permanently damage the natural immune system. Unvaccinated children build and strengthen their immune systems through fighting off infection and developing natural immunity to diseases like measles and chickenpox. Artificial immunity, generated through vaccination, weakens the immune system and leaves children more vulnerable to all other diseases and infections. [16]

  10. Children should not be required to receive the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) vaccine. Some studies have shown that children who receive the DPT vaccine exhibit shallow breathing which has been associated with sleep apnea and may be a causal factor in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Studies of infants whose deaths were recorded as SIDS show a temporal relationship with DPT vaccination (these infants tended to die at similar time intervals in relation to when they were vaccinated). [17]

  11. Children should not receive the hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis B is a blood-born disease and is primarily spread by sexual intercourse and intravenous drug use. Children are not at great risk of contracting the disease. In addition, researchers have found that immunization with the hepatitis B vaccine is associated with an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis. [18]

  12. Young girls should not receive mandatory vaccination for HPV (human papilloma virus). The vaccine was approved in 2006 and the long-term effects are unknown. Since approval, adverse side effects such as severe allergic reactions, Guillain-Barré syndrome, spinal cord inflammation and pancreatitis have been reported to the US Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. Although these adverse reactions may be rare, they are not worth the risk since the vaccine only protects against two of the 15 strains of HPV that may cause cancer of the cervix (20-40 years after an individual is infected). [19]

  13. Vaccines are promoted primarily to generate profits for manufacturers and financial donations for medical organizations that endorse vaccines. In 2003, a House Committee on Government Reform report [40] revealed that the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices had members with significant financial ties to vaccine companies. The American Academy of Pediatrics, a leading pro-vaccination organization, receives millions of dollars from vaccine companies. [20]

  14. Children should not be vaccinated against rotavirus. According to the CDC, rotavirus lasts only a few days and can be treated with fluids to rehydrate the patient. Only one in seven children requires hospitalization for the virus. The CDC further notes that vaccinated children may contract rotavirus because there are many types of the virus and neither the vaccine nor natural infection (catching the virus) provide full coverage against the virus. The vaccine may increase a child's liklihood that he/she will suffer intussusception, an intestinal blockage that can cause hospitalization. [61]
Comment Comment
Background: "Should any vaccines be required for children?"
'1802
(Click to enlarge image)
1802 painting of smallpox vaccine inventor Dr. Edward Jenner vaccinating a room full of people who then sprout cows from their bodies. The painting illustrates popular 17th century fears about vaccination. The caption reads "The Cow Pock - or - the Wonderful Effects of the New Innoculation."
Source: National Library of Medicine History of Medicine Collection, "The Cow Pock - or - the Wonderful Effects of the New Innoculation," ihmj.nlm.gov (accessed Jan. 7, 2010)
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all vaccines to ensure safety and effectiveness. No federal laws mandating vaccination exist, but all 50 states require certain vaccinations (exemptions allowed) for children entering public schools.

Proponents argue that vaccination is safe and one of the greatest health developments of the 20th century. They point out that illnesses, including rubella, diphtheria, and whooping cough, which once killed thousands of infants annually are now prevented by vaccination. They contend that anti-vaccination studies are often faulty, biased, and misleading.

Opponents argue that children’s immune systems can deal with most infections naturally, and that the possible side effects of vaccination, including seizures, paralysis, and death, are not worth the risk of safeguarding against non-life threatening illnesses. They contend that numerous studies prove that vaccines may trigger problems like autism, ADHD, and multiple sclerosis.

Depending on the state, children must be vaccinated against some or all of the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio. Although vaccination is required, all 50 states issue medical exemptions, 48 states (excluding Mississippi and West Virginia) permit religious exemptions [1], and 20 states allow an exemption [32] for philosophical reasons. As of 2009, the national average vaccination rate for required school entry vaccines was 95.41%. [41]

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Physicians recommend that children be vaccinated against fifteen different common childhood illnesses. [42] The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the National Vaccine Information Center, and Generation Rescue take the position that parents should have the freedom to make informed decisions about whether or not their children should receive vaccinations.

Vaccination began as a public health practice in 1796 when Dr. Edward Jenner developed a vaccine for smallpox disease. The vaccine was created from the cowpox virus - a disease similar to smallpox that only infected cows.
Multi-dose H1N1 vaccine vial
(Click to enlarge image)
Image of CSL Ltd. multi-dose H1N1 vaccine. On Nov. 12, 2009 the US FDA approved this vaccine for infants and children ages 6 months and older. The vaccine contains thimerosal, a mecury based preservative, that has been implicated as a possible cause of autism in vaccinated children.
Source: "Pregnant Women Face Uncertainty over H1N1 Vaccine," www.canada.com, Sep. 28, 2009


In 1809, Massachusetts became the first state to institute mandatory vaccinations for smallpox and other states then followed suit.

In 1879, in response to state-mandated vaccination, the Anti-Vaccination Society of America was founded on the belief that no one should ever be "complied to submit to any surgical operation" including vaccination, and that vaccines caused "corruption of the blood," and spread disease rather than preventing it. [24] [25]

On Feb. 20, 1905, mandatory vaccination was upheld by the US Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts. [26] In the aftermath of the ruling more states across the country began to implement mandatory child vaccination as a condition of public school attendance.

On Nov. 13, 1922, the constitutionality of mandatory vaccination of school children was once again challenged and upheld in the case Zucht v. King. [43]

On Apr. 12, 1955 Dr. Jonas Salk announced that he had developed a vaccine for polio, a disease that had crippled, paralyzed, and sometimes killed thousands of children in the US. The US implemented a national polio vaccination program that by 1965 had reduced the number of paralytic polio cases to 61 (the last case of the disease in the US was reported in 1993). [27]

In 1986 the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act [44] was passed in response to a large number of lawsuits being filed claiming vaccines were causing adverse reactions including brain damage and death. [28] The Act served to shield medical professionals and vaccine manufacturers from liability if an individual suffered injury from receiving vaccines. The Act mandated that vaccine injury claims be filed with the US Court of Federal Claims rather than filed directly against physicians or vaccine manufacturers in civil court. The Act created an Office of Special Masters to make rulings on petitions for compensation. Unlike civil court, those filing injury claims are not required to prove negligence or failure to warn - they only need to prove that a vaccine caused injury. [29]

'World
(Click to enlarge image)
World Health Organization poster promoting vaccination.
Source: National Library of Medicine History of Medicine Collection, "Immunize and Protect Your Child," ihmj.nlm.gov (accessed Jan. 7, 2010)
In 1993 the US Congress passed the "Comprehensive Childhood Immunization Act of 1993" [45] to increase the percentage of children who received vaccinations. The Act created the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program to provide vaccinations free of charge to children in need. However, by 1998 fewer than half of all two-year old children were fully vaccinated. The federal government is (as of Jan. 11, 2010) the largest purchaser of vaccines in the country with about 50% of all childhood vaccines in the US [46] administered through government-funded public immunization programs under the VFC.

On July 9, 1999, in response to growing concern over a link between vaccination and autism, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the US Public Health Service (PHS) recommended that thimerosal (a preservative containing mercury - a known neurotoxin) be removed from vaccines "as soon as possible." [47]

In July 2001, Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) held a congressional hearing [48] where he requested that the FDA immediately recall vaccines still containing mercury (certain influenza, meningococcal, and tetanus vaccines) [39] due to the risks associated with autism. The request was not met. In a subsequent Oct. 25 letter to then Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, [49] Representative Burton stated that "leaving thimerosal containing vaccines on the market is unconscionable."

As of Feb. 1, 2009, over 5,500 cases alleging a causal relationship between vaccinations and autism have been filed under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in the United States Court of Federal Claims. [21] They are all under consideration by the Office of Special Masters.

Between 1988 and 2009, the United States Court of Federal Claims Office of Special Masters has awarded compensation to 1,322 families whose children suffered brain damage from vaccines [22].
'Centers
(Click to enlarge image)
Centers for Disease Control poster promoting vaccination.
Source: National Library of Medicine History of Medicine Collection, "Immunize and Protect Your Child," ihmj.nlm.gov (accessed Jan. 7, 2010)


By Nov. 30, 2009, the mercury-based preservative thimerosal had been phased out of all vaccines in the US with the exception of certain influenza, meningococcal, and tetanus vaccines. [39]

About 30,000 cases of adverse reactions to vaccines have been reported annually to the federal government since 1990, with 13% classified as serious, meaning associated with permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness, or death. According to the CDC, infants (children less than one year old) are at greatest risk for adverse medical events from vaccination including high fevers, seizures, and sudden infant death syndrome. [23]

On Feb. 2, 2010, the British medical journal Lancet retracted an influential peer-reviewed 1998 study [50] that first linked vaccines with autism claiming the study had failed to have its child subjects properly approved by the local ethics committee. The study's lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, had his medical license revoked on May 24, 2010 for "serious professional misconduct" stemming from the retracted study. Wakefield contends that the investigation of his work is part of a conspiracy to "discredit and silence his research" in order to "shield the government from exposure on the vaccine scandal." [30]


On Aug. 27, 2010 the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled (3-0) that there is no link between vaccination and autism in the case of Cedillo v. Secretary of Health and Human Services. [51] The decision upheld two earlier rulings - a 2007 ruling by the United States Court of Federal Claims Office of Special Masters and an affirmation of that ruling by the Court of Federal Claims.

As of 2010, more than 10 million vaccines are given to children under the age of one each year in the US. [31]

On Jan. 5, 2011, the British Medical Journal published an editoral [52] stating that Dr. Wakefield's 1998 study connecting autism and vaccines was "an elaborate fraud," hoping that the declaration would "close the door for good" on lingering beliefs in a link between vaccination and autism. On Jan. 6, 2010, Dr. Andrew Wakefield continued to defend his study, stating that he is the victim of a conspiracy "to crush any attempt to investigate valid vaccine safety concerns."[53]

On Feb. 22, 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled (6-2) in the case of Bruesewitz v. Wyeth [54] that vaccine injury claims must continue to be filed with the US Court of Federal Claims set up under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, and cannot be filed directly against physicians or vaccine manufacturers in civil court.

From Mar. 22, 2011 to Apr. 28, 2011 a National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) ad advocating that parents learn the risks of vaccination aired every hour on the CBS Jumbotron at Times Square in New York City. [55]  In response the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sent a letter to CBS [56] accusing the NVIC of "unscientific" practices, opposition to vaccination, and warned that CBS was "putting the lives of children at risk" by providing ad space to the NVIC.  In its defense, the NVIC stated in a letter to the AAP [57] that their objective was to promote informed consent and alert parents to possible vaccine risks - not to oppose vaccination.

In a Feb. 24, 2005 Salon.com article titled "Deadly Immunity," Robert F. Kennedy Jr. argued that the 2000 Simpsonwood CDC Conference was spent "discussing how to cover up the damaging data" that a "staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity, and autism." [63] The article was corrected multiple times and later retracted by Salon.com [63] but resulted in an 18 month investigation by the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, "Thimerosal and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Alleged Misconduct by Government Agencies and Private Entities." The Senate committee concluded that Kennedy's allegation was not substantiated and, according to the report of the investigation, "[i]n 1999, thimerosal was voluntarily removed from childhood vaccines distributed in the United States as a precaution," prompted by a joint request by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Public Health Service. [64] As of 2007, vaccines for children 6 years old and younger contain no thimerosal or only trace amounts except for inactivated flu vaccines which are available in both thimerosal-containing and preservative-free versions. Despite the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, autism rates continue to rise. [64] On Aug. 25, 2011 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued an 800-page report, "Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality." [58]  The report brief stated that "evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship" between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.However, it also found "evidence convincingly supports a causal relationship" between the chickenpox vaccine and rare instances of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), as well as pneumonia, meningitis, and hepatitis in individuals with demonstrated immune deficiencies. [59] The Cochrane Collaboration, in a Feb. 15, 2012 independent investigation of studies on vaccines and autism concluded, "We could assess no significant association between MMR immunisation and the following conditions: autism, asthma, leukaemia, hay fever, type 1 diabetes, gait disturbance, Chrohn's disease, demyelinating diseases, or bacterial or viral infections." [65]
Video Gallery


proDaily Show correspondent Samantha Bee discusses vaccination in a satirical video.
Source: The Daily Show, "An Outbreak of Liberal Idiocy," www.thedailyshow.cc.com, June 2, 2014
not clearly pro or conCongressman Dan Burton (R-IN) speaking at the US House of Representatives Government Reform Committee hearing "Mercury in Medicine: Are We Taking Unnecessary Risks?," Dec. 2002.
Source: NVICstandup, "Congressman Dan Burton 2002," www.youtube.com, Jan. 28, 2009
proDr. Paul Offit speaks about vaccine safety and explains that the benefits are well worth the risks.
Source: PAMediaInc, "Dr. Paul Offit Says that Vaccines are Very Safe and Well Worth the Minimal Risk of Side Effects," www.youtube.com, May 14, 2009
conDr. Meryl Nass and other MDs speak out about the dangers associated with vaccination.
Source: 91177info, "Doctors Speak out about H1N1 Vaccine Dangers," www.youtube.com, Oct. 22, 2009

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