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parents who don’t vaccinate, arguments over vaccination

Disagreements Over Vaccinations Cause Bad Blood Between Parents

August 31, 2008 07:00 AM
by Rachel Balik
Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are being ostracized in schools and playgroups.

Right To Decline Vaccination Causes Rifts

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Parents who make the difficult decision to resist vaccinating their children are facing a new set of social problems. They are finding that their children are unwelcome in schools and playgroups

Since vaccines are not 100 percent effective, an infected child can pose a risk, even for children who have been vaccinated. Not vaccinating also hinders the eradication of treatable but deadly diseases in the United States. For that reason, most parents who have declined vaccination say that they choose not discuss their choice, unless they are pressed to do so. They argue their decision is private, but many parents who do vaccinate feel they have a right to protect their children by knowing who has been vaccinated.

Background: Vaccination Fears, New Measles Outbreaks

Parents generally choose not to vaccinate their children because they fear health risks and complications, many of which have not proven by studies nor confirmed by doctors. Some have read material such as Robert Kennedy Jr.’s Salon article, which correlates mercury in vaccines with a rise in autism. While parents who vaccinate view unvaccinated children as a health risk, parents who opt out genuinely fear that vaccination will hurt, rather than help, their babies. For example, Sybil Carlson is choosing not to vaccinate; she told the New York Times, “I saw medical studies, not given to use by the mainstream media, connecting them with neurological disorders, asthma and immunology.”

The majority view of the medical and scientific communities is that there is no link between childhood vaccines and autism. A study suggesting a connection was later deemed “flawed” by the editor of the journal who published the article. Most doctors hope that parents will see the merit of vaccinating. 

However, plenty of doctors and parents have marshaled extensive arguments against vaccinations. One blogger argues that, “You as a parent are responsible for the health of your child, not your doctor.” She offers information from a doctor on how to avoid state- mandated vaccinations. She also suggests keeping your child healthy by not taking her to the doctor’s office when she’s well; she’ll avoid being exposed to infection. But dangerous diseases can still be spread at school and elsewhere.

For example, outbreaks of the measles are on the rise.  In 2000, public health officials announced that measles had been eliminated in the United States; however, there have been 70 cases of the measles reported in 2008. As the number of parents opting out of immunization increases, so may the number of infectious disease cases previously curtailed by vaccines.

Reference: Herd Immunity

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