Understanding The Vaccination Debate

The debate over whether to vaccinate against common viruses has appeared in the media several times over the years, sometimes causing parents to question their decision on the matter. The truth is, there is a lot of solid science on one side, and a lot of solid statistics on the other, making it hard to get a truly accurate read on the matter. In order to make the most well-informed decision on vaccinating your child you first have to better understand the positions of both sides of this matter.

The Basics of Vaccines

Vaccines are to the immune system what software upgrades are to your computer. By using a dead culture of the virus in question, your immune system is able to replicate what it needs to effectively combat that virus. This practice has allowed medical science to eliminate several truly horrible diseases, including small pox, polio, and at least in the United States the measles.

The dead viral cultures are suspended in a solution of inert preservatives, intended to keep it from degrading, thereby maintaining its viability. After a short period of time, recipients of vaccines are effectively immune to that strain of the virus in question, and have strong defenses against other strains of the same virus. If exposed, they are at minimal risk of contracting the disease, or suffering severe reactions to similar strains of it.

Vaccine Statistics

The point of contention that arises in the vaccination debate has to do with adverse reactions to the vaccine itself. The truth is, there is no such thing as a medical treatment of any kind which can be guaranteed 100% safe, or 100% effective in every conceivable scenario. As a result, some people have exhibited severely adverse reactions to vaccines, and though that number is statistically insignificant, it can't be ignored by any responsible parent.

Adverse reactions are reported annually through a database maintained by the Center for Disease Control, about 10% - 15% of those reported are serious, resulting in hospitalization or other severe situations. In 2014, over 2,000 serious cases were reported to the CDC, which sounds like a considerable number of adverse reactions. However, when compared against the number of vaccines applied, this accounts for a very small percentage of even those individuals who received one of the 145 million flu vaccines distributed in 2014.

While it's true that adverse reactions occur in some patients, it must also be understood that the rate of severe reactions to viral infections is far greater. Preventing this, more than anything else, is the purpose of a vaccine.

For more information on vaccines for children, contact a professional like Willow Oak Pediatrics.