Type: Evaluation Essays
Sample donated: Kerry Thomas
Last updated: September 20, 2019
Children are losing their abilityto function normally and even their lives due to vaccine preventable diseases.
Many parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children due to misinformationand the fear of causing autism to their children through vaccines. The evidenceof parents not vaccinating is becoming evident by the spread of such diseases.Is it worth it to not vaccinate our children because of fear from side effects?What is in the vaccine that causes such fears? How do the vaccines work? Howdid vaccines come to be? With further research being done, what haveresearchers and physicians found to be the truth? Are the celebritiesadvocating about anti-vaccination correct, or are is it a cloud ofmisinformation? In 1796 Britain, Edward Jenner (1749–1823)developed the first successful vaccine.
Jenner, as the tale of discovery goes,had heard a milkmaid declare “I shall never have smallpox for I have hadcowpox. I shall never have an ugly pockmarked face” (Eckenrode 1). Afterhearing this, Jenner acquired pus from a cowpox lesion and inoculated aneight-year-old boy. A few days later, the boy developed a mild case ofvaccinia, which is an acute infection caused by inoculation of small pox, butsoon after he recovered. Six weeks later, Jenner had inoculated the boy withsmall pox and was unaffected by the exposure, the boy had gained immunity dueto the cow pox inoculation. This was the beginning of vaccines and activeimmunity.
Martinez 2 AlthoughJenner’s inoculation was successful there would not be any major advancementsuntil almost 100 years later when Louis Pasteur, MD, would show the world thatdiseases could be prevented by infecting humans with weaken pathogens (anydisease-producing agent). In 1985, Dr. Pasteur successfully administered arabies vaccine on a boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog. Dr. Louis Pasteur advancementwould set up future research for further development of vaccines (History ofImmunizations). Inthe 19th century, smallpox vaccines became increasingly widespreadpractice in the United States.
Although, some of the population still viewedvaccination with fear. These fears were not helped by the lack of knowledge ofvaccinations, and scientist and physicians of the time could not explain howand why vaccinations worked. The people were not content with the vaccines justworking. In1879 Americans opposed to vaccination founded the Anti-Vaccination Society ofAmerica (Lord 1). Groups started to emerge to fight against vaccination andfuel the fire against it. In 1901 the antivaccination resistance would findjustice for their cause.
Contamination of diphtheria antitoxin would be theculprit of the death of thirteen children in St. Louis. Furthermore, smallpoxvaccines would cause the deaths of several children in Camden, New Jersey. Fearswere starting to become reality.
Itwas not till 1902 that Congress would pass the Biologics Control Act inresponse to the deaths of the children, this had severe consequences for theHygienic Laboratory. Standards were established for the development of vaccinesand requiring by law for pharmaceutical companies Martinez 3 to acquire a license from thegovernment. The new standard set by the Biologics Control Act of 1902 woulddrive one-third of the companies producing antitoxins and vaccines intobankruptcy, but companies that were already incompliance would reap the benefits of doing so.
The U.S. government would seeit necessary for oversight to prevent further deaths from contamination. Vaccinationshave been met with skepticism since their introduction.
In 1905, for example,the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the need to protect the public health throughcompulsory smallpox vaccination outweighed an individual’s right to privacy; thisprincipal has been consistently reiterated and is supported by the concept ofherd immunity, whereby a certain target of the population (approximately 90percent, depending on the disease) must be immunized for protection to beconferred upon the entire group (Eckenrode 1). In the United States, somestates have permitted individuals from being exempt from mandatory vaccinationsbased on religious beliefs, for medical reasons, and for philosophicalobjections. In1926 seven-year-old Belema Siegfried was turned away from school. The reason?Her parents had refused to submit paperwork proving that she had beenvaccinated (Lord 1). Belema’s father, Louis Siegfried, was a Brooklynchiropractor who written a journal by title of The Quest (Against Vaccinationand Cruel Vivisection). Like other chiropractors of the time, Siegfriedadvocated against the use of vaccinations due to a non-interventions stance tohealth.
He saw vaccinations as an “inherent poison” which was being introducedinto a healthy body. Several other anti-vaccination propagandas would pop up,but they didn’t last long and often folded quickly. Martinez 4 Intoday’s world, vaccines go through meticulous and broad development programs inlaboratories to regulate the safety and effectiveness. Highly trained FDAscientists and clinicians carefully evaluate all of the information in amarketing application and make a determination whether to license (approve) avaccine before it can be used in the United States (Dept. of Health 1). As partof the FDA evaluation, the FDA takes into consideration all active ingredientsas well as other substances included in vaccinesbefore licensure. After approval from the FDA, vaccines are continuouslymonitored for safety. Peoplemay be concerned about the ingredients that are in vaccines and the potential harmthat a certain ingredient may have on a human body.
An adjuvant is a substanceadded to some vaccines to enhance the immune response of vaccinatedindividuals. The aluminum salts in someU.S. licensed vaccines are aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, alum(potassium aluminum sulfate), or mixed aluminum salts (Dept. of Health). Aluminumsalts, for example, are used in DTAP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), thepneumococcal conjugate vaccine, and hepatitis B vaccines. Moreover, for sixdecades aluminum has been proven to be safe in vaccines, but can be rarely associatedwith uncommon severe local reactions.
Even so, the most common ingestion ofaluminum is not through vaccines, but through eating food and drinking water. Anotheringredient that has many people up in arms is mercury. Mercury is found invaccines by way of a compound by the name of thimerosal. Thimerosal is amercury-containing compound that prevents the growth of harmful bacteria andfungus from contaminating the Martinez5 vaccine. Elevated levels of mercurycan severely damage the nervous system, and especially in children. In the caseof vaccines elevated levels of mercury is not present. It turns out that the mercury compounds in questionbehave quite differently in the body from those on which the originalinferences were based (Dangers of Mercury).
Research on children injected withvaccine containing thimerosal has shown that mercury concentrations in theblood were extremely low, urine samples showed low concentrations as well, butstool samples had elevated levels. The elevated levels in the stool suggestthat mercury is simply pooped out. The outcry of mercury in vaccines doing harmis simply not true. Ahuge argument coming from anti-vaccination groups is that vaccines cause autismin children, and the blame often sits with the ingredients of the vaccines,such as, thimerosal and aluminum. This is a frightening statement to hear forany parent, especially if you think you have poisoned your child by forcing a vaccineinto their little body.
The truth of the matter is that nobody knows what reallycauses autism. Twin studies from as farback as the 1970s indicated that ASD (autism spectrum disorder) was stronglyheritable, but the subsequent rise in diagnoses led many researchers andparents to look for environmental influences (Makin 1). In 1998, AndrewWakefield colleagues published a study in the “The Lancet” connecting the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)vaccine to colitis and autism spectrum disorders. Celebrities began echoing thestudy and the vaccinations for MMR began to decline. The study was, in fact,fraudulent, and when The Lancetfound out it had been funded by lawyers for parents who were suing vaccine companies,the paper was retracted in 2010, and Wakefield lost his license (Makin 1). Martinez 6 Outof fear of causing autism to their children parents have been shying away from vaccines.
The misinformation has caused a resurgence of diseases such as measles. Dr. MargaretA. Hamburg, M.D., stated in a blog that “This outbreak is particularlydisturbing because measles was effectively eliminated from the United States in2000 thanks to nearly universal vaccination, the single best way to prevent thespread of this disease.” Vaccination works with the body’s natural defenses tohelp it safely develop immunity to the measles (Makin 1). When a majority arevaccinated the opportunity to spread disease are significantly dropped.
Generally,when 90 percent of a community is vaccinated against a virus the people who cannotbe vaccinated, such as, infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromisedindividuals can also be protected because the spread of contagious disease iscontained. This is known as “herd immunity”. Gainingactive immunity through vaccination has been proven to beat infectious diseasesand even almost eliminate them. Even when Edward Jenner first proved that inoculationworked, people still had their doubts.
These doubts persisted and were fueledwhen vaccine batches were contaminated and caused the death of children in St.Louis. The result of contaminated vaccines resulted in the U.S. government inregulating the production of vaccines. The flames of doubt were fanned onceagain by Andrew Wakefield and his fraudulent research and celebrities agreeingwith Wakefield. Due to the decline of vaccinations, the herd immunity hasfaltered due to a lower percentage of not being vaccinated.
Hopefully, thiscleared up how vaccines came about and the myths of vaccinations being adanger.