Out of all the issues that exist today, few are a little more concerning as the debate over vaccinations. One side will claim that these substances are entirely safe, while their opposition will declare that vaccinations are based on flawed science in need of reconsideration. Although based mainly on facts, one will find that there is a middle ground between these two belief systems. Vaccinations are nowhere near as harmful as many claim, there are some concerns that must be addressed. Like many things in the world, the correct answer over the problematic nature of vaccines in 2019 lies in a grey area that two ideologically inclined sides of a debate are generally not willing to take into account. To begin, one should understand a brief history of vaccines, as well as the mass hysteria that has risen in recent years in regards to vaccinations as a whole.
The Industrial Revolution was perhaps the most life-changing events that took place in the 19th century. Transforming the way humans live, work, and earn an income, but there are also a few downsides to this sudden shift of human activity. While urbanization was taking place, many people and families moved away from small, rural communities into dense urban environments to get jobs in factories, mills, and the industrial powerhouses that the United States was known for in the early 1900s (Baicus). Living conditions were often unsanitary, with numerous people sharing one small living space, and other families being separated by mere inches of drywall and concrete. If only they knew, urbanization created a breeding ground for diseases and viruses that never had the opportunity to thrive in such an atmosphere ever before (Baicus).
The most devastating disease was that of polio, a deadly disease that could not only kill those suffering from it but also spread to the brain and spinal cord, leaving sufferers mentally damaged and paralyzed. Fortunately, Jonas Salk developed the first ever polio vaccine in 1955, working off what Edward Jenner had discovered in 1796 if one is injected with a weakened version of a virus, their body can develop antibodies (immunity) to it (Baicus). It is believed to have saved 10 million lives and has become a standard vaccination for people living in the majority of developed countries (Baicus). It is at this that anti-vaccine interest groups genuinely can’t argue, as the polio vaccine went on to shape American History and potentially prevented a demographic collapse. That being said, the vaccine industry has made a great deal since Salk’s breakthrough, with many questioning the nature of their intentions, and wondering if these industries wish to help, or a company solely focused on making money?
The entire vaccination debate stems from one doubting law that was passed in 1986. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 was a piece of legislation that was created to inform a growing concern over individuals who had been harmed by mass vaccination programs there made as a standard throughout the United States. The law acknowledged that some deaths and injuries came as a result of vaccinations and that those suffering from such events should be entitled to fair financial compensation to help with the damaged that has been caused (“The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986”).
However, the law was also made if that vaccine manufacturers could not possibly be held liable for the safety of their products, should be if someone got harmed. Coincidentally, something else happened in 1986 as well, that year that vaccine manufacturers were absolved from any wrongdoing from a young child getting hurt by their products also saw the first year in which the required immunization schedule for children saw an expansive growth (“The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act Of 1986”). In ten years following that law, over ten new vaccines were added to the list of recommended immunizations itself. Instead, one should consult the statistics about how many vaccines are being given in the United States right now.
The United States currently requires children to get more vaccines than any other country on earth. In the United States, three times as many vaccines are given to children under the age of the three than in most Western Europe and other developed countries, with American children under the age of three receiving as many as 72 individual doses of vaccinations (“Vaccinations And Autism: Are We Number 1?”). Even with all those vaccines, the United States has the absolute worst infant mortality rate of another developed country at a rate of 5.44 per 1,000 children (Mortality rate, Infant (Per 1,000 Live Births).
The United States mandates that children receive the most vaccines out any developed country in the world, and it is also home to the pharmaceutical giants that are completely protected from liability. Making people have massive doubts on the idea that pharmaceutical companies are genuinely concerned with the public wellbeing as disagreeing to make certain that their shareholders are satisfied with company profits. As said before, perhaps the most concerning aspect of this situation is that such companies are removed from liability, a fact that indeed seems to the root of the majority of the issues seen here.
Total protection from liability is something of a rarity in most industries, as lawsuits are common when a product harms a consumer that specific company manufacturers. Vaccine companies, however, are exempt from this, and the US government instead assumed liability for such things (“The National Childhood Vaccine Act Of 1986”). A family can sue if they believe the compensation they are receiving is not high enough, and the US court of Claims even gave out $4 billion in assistance in 2018 alone due to these very incidents (“The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act Of 1986”). This bring the most legitimate argument that goes against vaccinations: that it is not technology itself that is harmful, but rather the aggressive vaccination schedule that is currently recommended by the CDC each year. However, this is where the pro-vaccination group seems to experience similar shortcomings to those against the practice: vaccine injuries are not as uncommon as one would believe, and statistics are there to prove it.
Even in the days of Salk, 200 people contracted the polio virus itself from the vaccines, subsequently dying from it (Mello et al). The fact of the matter is that no medical intervention is guaranteed to be 100% safe. Despite the apparent casualties of the vaccine industry, the majority of people do not suffer from an adverse effects. A rather small amount of risk for a real segment of the population comes to question when compared to the potential for infectious diseases to ravage a community as a whole. However, in looking at the problems here, one can begin to look for possible and potential solutions that can possibly help to alleviate some of the concerns discussed here.
After all, with the infant mortality rate as high as it is, one cannot help but wonder if vaccinations are helping the situation as much as one would claim? How is that a country such as Russia, a place that is by and large considered to be a developing country in many ways, manages to maintain a significantly lower infant mortality rate while giving children 1/8thd of the vaccines that babies in the United States (‘Time Magazine’). One can see that there is a growing amount of support that currently exists for people who are looking to not do away with vaccinations altogether, but instead merely seeking a more “European” approach to the schedule by which children are vaccinated. It is said that 13% of all new parents in the United States are using some form of alternative vaccination schedule, a statically significant figure that just goes to show that there is a great deal of power in this movement, rather careless lack of trust in institutions have managed to split people down the middle on this issue, there is a common-sense solution to be found in the middle ground.
Understanding the nature of vaccinations in the modern world is indeed no easy task whatsoever. Furthermore, when one considers just how divided the general public has become on this issue, it should come as no surprise that this remains a hot topic of discussion today. All things considered, it would be illogical to say that vaccinations are not useful, yet it would be foolish to believe that the pharmaceutical industry is a benevolent force who is more focused on public health as opposed to its bottom line. However, one can see that perhaps spacing out the vacation schedule that young children are subject to would be the best course of action to take in a situation such as this.