Should we suspect children’s vaccinations which they take from birth? Is there a relationship between vaccinations and autism? Why do some families refuse to vaccinate their children? How do doctors come to the fore?  Throughout our writing process today, we will point to the vaccine issue discussed in different parts of the world in different dimensions.

Nowadays, there is an increase of anti-vaccination activists throughout the world, especially in the United States and European countries. There are also countless family groups and the Facebook communities suggesting that vaccines are suspicious, and protective vaccines contain permanent damage effects on children.

Two earlier contributions came with a lot of response and discussions on this topic. In a (Dutch) ‘longread’ entitled ‘The uneasy reality of the anti-vaccination movement’ they analyzed the rhetoric of certain anti-vaccination groups. These groups often use quasi-scientific/biomedical language and appeal to incidental scientific findings as far as it supports their views, but do not generally accept the mores of critical reflection that is common in science.

In Trouw Pierik and Verweij argued that there is no empirical evidence that a shift to mandatory vaccination – as is happening now in Italy and France – will be counterproductive and raise a lot of protest and resistance. The national immunization program in the Netherlands is currently fully voluntary, and vaccination rates are still very high, so at this point, it may not be necessary to require parents to have their children immunized. Coverage is however slowly declining, and the debates that Pierik and Verweij are raising will shape the future of immunization in the Netherlands.

A study published in The Lancet in 1998, by Andrew Wakefield came out with an evidence to support the anti-vaccination movement and suggested that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine could trigger autism. After this, Wakefield lost his medical license permanently and so he retracted the paper in 2010.

So, should you really be injecting a healthy child with these things?

The answer from the vast majority of medical experts is a resounding “yes.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that healthy children get vaccinated against 14 diseases by age 2. In fact, the government supports vaccines so strongly that any uninsured child can walk into a clinic and get his or her shots for free. And yet, despite doctors’ reassurances and mounting evidence for the safety and value of vaccination, many educated, dedicated parents are still wary of vaccines — or passionately opposed to them.

As a result, there have been recent outbreaks of serious diseases that vaccines had virtually wiped out in the U.S., including measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), and haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which was once the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in kids under 5.

However, infectious-disease specialists say these cases are due to a breakdown of what’s known as “herd immunity.” In order for a community to be fully protected against a disease, 80 to 90 percent of its population needs to have been vaccinated, says pediatrician Lance Rodewald, M.D., director of the Immunization Services Division of the CDC. Whenever coverage drops significantly below that level, a school, a church, or a neighborhood becomes susceptible to the disease.

Most of the recent measles outbreaks have been traced to individuals who visited a country where vaccine-preventable diseases still flourish. “The fact is, all of these diseases still exist — some circulate in this country and others are only a plane ride away,” says Dr. Rodewald. “They could easily become widespread again if more people refuse vaccines.”

At least seven large studies in major medical journals have now found no association between the MMR vaccine and ASD — and this February, The Lancet officially retracted Dr. Wakefield’s original paper. (Revelations that he had failed to disclose connections to lawyers involved in vaccine litigation also emerged.) In March, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Office of Special Masters, a group of judges appointed to handle cases of families who believe immunizations were responsible for their child’s autism, ruled that thimerosal in vaccines does not increase the risk of the disorder. (In 2008, a federal judge did award compensation to the family of Hannah Poling, a child with mitochondrial disorder, a rare condition that can show symptoms of autism, which she was diagnosed with shortly after receiving five vaccines.) Several demographic analyses have also found that autism rates continued to rise even after thimerosal was removed from all vaccines except some flu shots.

What about you, are you for or against vaccination? Discuss in the comments below.


References : Wageningen University and Research, Parents