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Vaccinations: Public Health vs. Public Choice

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    There is continuous controversy over vaccinations, focusing on the public health versus individual choice to receive the vaccines or not. While many argue that all vaccinations should be mandatory, others tend to disagree and lean towards allowing individuals to decide for themselves and their children of whether they will get vaccinated. Fake information was spread among the public, insisting that vaccines for significant diseases were causing serious medical problems, even though medical professionals continue to prove that theory wrong. Even after this information was demonstrated to be false, people continue to question the effectiveness of vaccinations (Jones, 2018). Although parents can refuse vaccinations for their children, as most of those attending school know that they require their students to get certain shots before entering a specific grade. Schools can only allow so many shots to be mandatory without overstepping on the parents’ decision.

    While allowing people to choose to not get vaccinated, medical professionals continue to encourage the public to become vaccinated to protect not only themselves, but everyone surrounding them. While vaccines are not 100% effective, they are still beneficial and effective for the majority of people receiving the vaccines. Great dispute exists between the health of the public against personal choice when discussing the option of becoming vaccinated or choosing to refrain from vaccinations.

    In Linda Laskowski- Jones’s 2018 journal, “Personal Choice vs. Public Health,” Jones discusses vaccinations and how dishonest studies about vaccinations made people, especially parents, shy away from vaccines because of the untrue information the studies produced. Regardless of these studies being proven incorrect, fears still exist and harm persists with public health because of this “growing threat” (Jones, 2015). Jones stated that because the public is often misled by false medical facts, the true statistics tend to be questioned or ignored simply because of the rapidly spread, negative information has more power over the people. For medical professionals, this untrue information makes it difficult to change the public’s mindset on vaccinations and the true effects. This “health misinformation” deters people away from getting vaccinated for serious diseases which puts them and others, especially babies and those with weak immune systems, at risk for such diseases. These diseases can not only be airborne and spread very quickly, but they also have dangerous effects including serious illnesses and even death (Jones, 2018).

    From Jones’s article on vaccinations, she makes the idea of avoiding vaccinations seem selfish because they are doing what they think it best for themselves, when really there is a possibility of hurting others along the way. Those who are against vaccines think that washing their hands, taking vitamins, and doing other healthy and preventative things may work, but in reality, this most likely will not protect you from airborne diseases, such as the measles.

    Jones includes that she supports people’s right to decide most medical decisions for themselves, especially since the medical approach encourages “patient- centered” actions so they can do what is best for their patients. Although, when the decision is concerning harmful and deadly diseases, the professionals’ beliefs often change. Linda Jones concludes that now, it is time for the public’s position to alter towards a course of action based off the idea of a more “population- centered” approach. By changing approaches, diseases can be limited with a larger quantity of the population being vaccinated, as well as the reduction of illnesses.

    In contrast to this, others tend to disagree and side with vaccinations not being required, but instead should be up to individuals on whether they want to get the vaccinations. In “Vaccination: Defending Your Right to Know,” by Barbara Fisher, the NVIC, or National Vaccine Information Center, Fisher states that the NVIC is not on either side. They support the right to choose vaccinations on your own because it’s important to make your own decisions and to defend them because of your rights. Contrary to the previous article, the NVIC explains that there are side effects that can be detrimental to one’s life, but in most cases, it is rare to occur. This was a significant thing to include in their article because it not only includes positive aspects of vaccinations, but also the negative ones. A lot of writers choose to leave out such vital information like the negative effects that vaccines cause, and it deters the population away from the thought of getting vaccinated.

    In Fisher’s article, expresses her feelings towards individual choice to decide what “risks” people take when it comes to their health. If they choose to get vaccinated, they will mostly be protecting themselves, but there are no guarantees because the effects vary with each individual. Without protecting yourself by getting vaccinated, you could essentially be risking your own health and also have the possibility of risking the well-being of others around you. The author suggests that although avoiding vaccinations may not be in your best interest, the decision is still yours to make. Regardless of the decision that the public believes is best, people still have the freedom to make these medicals decisions based off their beliefs about vaccinations and the bad effects they may have. The National Vaccine Information Center’s purpose is to inform the public about vaccinations, not push people to get vaccinations (Fisher, 2014). Although that is encouraged for safety issues, The NVIC remains neutral, meaning that they say they do not side with either public health or individual choice, but instead find a way to support both (Fisher, 2014). These aspects are important because they both have their benefits for the community, which is the main focus of this controversy. I feel that in this article, despite saying that they are neutral, I think they lean towards public choice more than anything else.

    The controversy of siding with either public health or individual choice when dealing with vaccinations has become a very important topic with all of the diseases that are present in the world today (Fisher, 2014). While the medical professional, Linda Laskowski- Jones argued against individual choice and leaned towards public health, Barbara Fisher, the head of the National Vaccination Information Center, placed more focus and importance on the choice of individuals. By stating this, this does not mean that one or the other is the correct argument, but that both sides can be seen as reasonable sides to support. There is no proven right or wrong answer, the government cannot enforce you to get every vaccine that exists because in a lot of cases, it may not be necessary or may be overstepping on parental decisions. While it is important to stay healthy and up to date on vaccines, it is also important to do what you think will benefit you and others around you the most, whether this means remaining unvaccinated, or vaccinated. Both options are arguable, but neither have been proved to be necessarily the “right” or “wrong” decisions, or sides to favor.

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    Vaccinations: Public Health vs. Public Choice. (2021, Aug 30). Retrieved from

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