There is no doubt that infectious diseases can be devastating, especially when contracted by children. Even when these diseases don’t lead to death, the ramifications can be just as traumatic to both the child and her family. Polio may cause paralysis. Meningitis may cause brain damage, hearing loss, and seizures. Rubella in pregnancy may cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
Vaccinating may prevent someone from ever having to suffer these illnesses and the consequences. Who would want to suffer from being sick? Or worse yet, who would want to watch their child suffer from one of these illnesses if they could prevent it in the first place?
The medical community recommends vaccinations because they feel that the benefits of preventing the spread of these infectious diseases far outweigh the risks. Most medical literature you will find indicates virtually no risk to vaccinations. Vaccinations introduce a small amount of weakened or dead versions of the offending pathogen into the bloodstream. The immune system kicks in and begins producing antibodies, and subsequently kills off the pathogen with ease since it was not strong enough to overwhelm the immune system.
If the person is exposed again to the pathogen, their immune system immediately recognizes the pathogen and present antibodies quickly go to work to kill the pathogen. While there are some vaccines that are said to offer lifetime protection such as that of Chickenpox, others require periodic boosters such as Tetanus.
There are potential side effects to vaccines that can be found on the CDC website. Possible side effects differ for various vaccines, but some side effects that are common include mild fever, headaches, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal upset. Moderate and severe side effects are rare and again differ for different vaccines, but may include seizures, brain damage, and death.
Reasons to Not Vaccinate
The Vaccination Debate: Why or Why Not to Vaccinate
Barham-Floreani, J., (2005). Well Adjusted Babies. Vitality Productions Pty Limited: Melbourne, Australia.
Romm, A.J., (2001). Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parents Guide. Healing Arts Press: Rochester, VT.