Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blog Assignment 3 - Vaccine Wars

For this week’s blog assignment, we watched the Frontline Special “Vaccine Wars” which outlines the debate over vaccines in our world today. The video begins by showing various cases where vaccines have been linked to having serious side effects. One of the biggest side effects studied from vaccinations was autism. Through various interviews of normal, everyday people, this video effectively shows both sides of this debate over having a choice with vaccinations.

This video did influence the way I think about vaccinations. Before watching, I did not know that there was such a controversy over the issue. I also was unaware that vaccines could have the various side effects as big as autism. I was under the impression that everyone gets vaccines without question because they will keep you healthy. However, after watching this video, it is clearer why some people may object to getting some vaccines due to the side effects.

As explained in the video, herd immunity is the idea that when a group of people in a population is vaccinated against a disease, it will provide protection for other people in the population who are not vaccinated. This term is very important in the public health world today. When the small group of people is vaccinated, other people who live in the same area as that group may not have to worry as much about contracting the disease. That is to say, the risk of contracting the contagious disease becomes much lower because of the idea of herd immunity.

Vaccination can be different from other types of personal health decisions because it starts right at infancy. As explained in the video, newborns begin getting vaccines almost right after they are born. Because of this, parents and doctors are the ones who decide which vaccinations, if any, a child should get. Infants and children are incapable of making these decisions for themselves, so it is up to their parents more often than not to make the decisions for them.

There are many different reasons why children might not receive the recommended vaccinations. It is clear from the video that many parents wish that their children have a sort of natural lifestyle so they choose to skip some vaccinations. Another reason could be that a certain disease, like polio, is not prevalent in our world anymore. In this case, many parents do not have their children get that vaccination because they see no point to it. One of the biggest reasons, which is clear after watching this video, is that parents fear the side effects related to these vaccinations, so they opt out of having their children get the vaccines.

As a public health policymaker, I would make it a main goal to increase vaccination rates. One way I would do this would be by educating the public about vaccinations and showing them the many benefits. It is true that there can be risks with the various vaccinations out in the world, but I would be sure to show that the benefits immensely outweigh the risks. I would use specific data, statistics and results in order to prove my point in this situation that overall vaccines would benefit the population of the world more than harm it.


  1. While reading your blog post, I have to agree that I also was not aware of the huge controversy over vaccinations. I just thought that it was a widely accepted measure taken to prevent serious outbreaks and epidemics. I didn't think that so many people would be actually against it. Also, herd immunity is important because it protects those who are not yet able to receive the vaccinations for reasons such as age (babies). In addition to your comments about parents thinking diseases like polio are not around anymore, they also seem not to be aware that other parts of the world aren't as fortunate as the U.S. They fail to realize that people travel and germs can spread quickly. Lastly, i agree with your idea of pushing the notion that the risks of vaccines are minuscule in comparison to the benefits. I think vaccinations are not only a personal health decision, but also a public service or duty because not only are you protecting yourself, but also those around you.

  2. Thanks for your post. While the MMR-autism link has been debunked, the fraudulent connection of vaccines to autism continues hamper vaccination efforts. If parents perceive a vaccine to be of little or marginal benefit to their child, any possibility of individual risk is reason enough not to vaccinate.

    Think of these other reasons why children may not receive the recommended vaccines:
    -Fear of side effects of the vaccine
    -Cost of the vaccine
    -Pain associated with administration
    -lack of knowledge re: contraindication
    -poor reimbursement (or reimbursement under cost of vaccine)
    -poor follow-up
    -inadequate understanding re: vaccine intervals and make-up vaccine schedules
    Healthcare system:
    -money for vaccination used for more dangerous diseases
    -a shift in priority to chronic disease
    -poor emphasis on prevention

    Thanks for your post.