Parents who believe vaccines might harm their children raise concerns during disease outbreaks. People who favor vaccines want to protect all children from contagious diseases, including those unable to be vaccinated because of medical reasons.
Proponents of vaccines argue that many diseases have been eradicated, thanks to these modern developments. The argument has heightened because of the 2014-15 measles outbreaks in the U.S. More than 100 cases were reported in the first two months of 2015.
A public debate has arisen about whether or not parents should be forced to vaccinate their children. Parents can use religious reasons or personal exemptions to excuse their children from being vaccinated in the U.S. More parents began objecting to vaccinations following a 1997 study that linked the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.
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The study was later completely discredited because of major errors and the number of children, only 12, used for research. Several other studies and analyses, focusing on hundreds to more than a million children, showed no link to vaccines and autism. However, the 1997 study had already created a storm against vaccines for children by worried parents.
According to an article published in NPR
, forced vaccination was used in Philadelphia during a U.S. measles outbreak in 1991. Faith Tabernacle Congregation in the northern part of the city did not believe in immunizations or medical care. Parents were refusing to seek medical treatment for children who contracted the disease.
The city's health commission sought and received a court order forcing the parents of Faith Tabernacle to have their children vaccinated during the crisis. The outbreak had subsided by the time the court order went through and only nine out of 1,000 children from the congregation were vaccinated. Nine children in Philadelphia died during the outbreak, and six of them were from Faith Tabernacle.
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However, methods of forced vaccinations on the part of parents still remain controversial as people look for a balance between public safety and personal choice.
Advocates of making parents vaccinate their children argue that immunizing most children in a community or society protects everyone. Children who can't receive vaccines because of medical reasons are protected by "herd immunity," which decreases the risk of widespread disease. The proponents point out that disease outbreaks occur when fewer people are immunized.
Those who argue against forcing parents to have their children vaccinated say it is a basic individual right of a person. People should be allowed to choose what is injected in their bodies or the bodies of their children. If they believe vaccines cause harm, they have that choice, according to opponents of forced vaccination.
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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