Controversies over vaccinations are long-standing in the United States. One main question prevails: Should parents be required to immunize their children?
What has become known as the anti-vaccination movement involves a group of people with strong feelings against immunizations.
Some people don’t trust science and modern medicine.
They may be concerned about possible side effects and health risks, or they may have a general distrust in the effectiveness or necessity behind treatments.
A problem for some people may be that they have become accustomed to an America without diseases like measles, mumps, and polio.
There have now been two generations that, until recently, had never seen any of the diseases and quite frankly didn’t know what they were.
Even before those two generations these diseases were sparsely a problem for the generation preceding them.
A general uninformed public could be attributing to the fact that people under the age of 50 are more likely to disagree with required vaccinations.
According to a PewResearch study 68 percent of adults believe that vaccines should be required.
And there is a gap by age where 37 percent of younger adults (under the age of 50) say they should have the right not to immunize. With old generations only 22 percent of adults over the age of 50 think the same.
For those old enough to remember, measles for instance, became an epidemic in the United States.
The disease is an airborne illness that lingers and is spread over time, meaning someone who has it can walk into a room, breathe, leave and then two hours later the virus is still there.
Because of this measles is highly infectious disease which is easily spread.
A vaccine for measles was not released until 1963 and in the decade leading up to the development almost every child was diagnosed with it before age 15.
An estimated three to four million were infected each year, thousands were hospitalized and hundreds died.
In the year 2000 the CDC declared measles officially eliminated from the United States, due to its potent and highly effective vaccine. Elimination is determined after the continuous absence of disease transmission for 12 months.
Since then, diseases like measles have slowly made there way back to the United States, and the CDC says unvaccinated people are the main cause of the outbreak.
Already in 2015, 121 cases have been reported and the majority of people who got it were unvaccinated.
Diseases like measles are still common in other parts of the world and the easiest way for it to spread is through areas where unvaccinated groups reside.
Yet, it is still a controversy as to whether parents should be able to choose for their children.
A lot of this controversy stemmed from a British scientist, who said there was a potential correlation between vaccinations and autism. This premise has since been disproved.
What is important to remember is that just because these diseases are no longer causing widespread illness, does not mean they weren’t at one point.
With the large outbreaks in the 50s and 60s, vaccinations were not an option. A “No Shot, No School” policy was implemented and children couldn’t return until immunized.
Today vaccinations are required for children in all 50 states and parents have the option to fill out an affidavit request for exemptions from immunizations for reasons of conscience, which will vary by state.
But as the exemption requests for vaccinations increase, so do the illnesses.
At the end of the day a lot of people who are against vaccinations believe it is a personal choice, but when it comes down to it, choosing to not vaccinate your child may put others at risk .
The Anti Vaccine Generation: How Movement Against Shots Got its Start. National Geographic. Retrieved Feb. 9,2015.
Measles History. CDC. Retrieved Feb. 9,2015.
Frequently Asked Questions About Measles in the U.S.. CDC. Retrieved Feb. 9,2015.
Measles Rubeola. CDC. Retrieved Feb. 9,2015.
Autism and Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination Laid to Rest. NBCI. Retrieved Feb. 9,2015.
Vaccines and Access to Experimental Treatment. PewResearch. Retrieved Feb. 9,2015.
Reviewed February 11, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith