Vaccinations have been a source of controversy since their beginning in 1721; issues of morality, ethics, individual freedoms, religion, effectiveness and safety have all been raised and disputed over the years, waxing and waning with overall social consciousness and government mandates. The first mandated vaccine in the U.S. was in 1809 by the state of Massachusetts for smallpox.
Currently the federal government has no requirements however each state mandates certain immunizations prior to entering daycare and/or public school and college. The CDC has listed 29 recommended immunizations for your child between birth and six years of age for 2012. Exemptions are given for a variety of reasons; two of the most popular being religious and philosophical differences.
“Anti-vaccinationists past and present” has quoted historian Martin Kauffman, his conclusion was:
“With the improvements in medical practice and the popular acceptance of the state and federal governments’ role in public health, the anti-vaccinationists slowly faded from view, and the movement collapsed.”
This movement was originally created as a response to the perceived government role and subsequently its mandates concerning public health. It started in the UK:
“The Vaccination Act of 1853 made vaccination compulsory for all infants in the first three months of life and made defaulting parents liable to a fine or imprisonment. The Act of 1867 extended the compulsory vaccination requirement to age 14, with cumulative penalties for non-compliance. These laws were a political innovation that extended government powers into areas of traditional civil liberties in the name of public health.
Resistance to these laws began immediately after passage of the 1853 law, with violent riots in Ipswich, Henley, Mitford, and several other towns.5 The founding of the Anti-Vaccination League in London in the same year provided a nucleus for opponents of vaccination. After the 1867 law was passed its opponents focused concern upon the infringement of personal liberty and choice. The Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League was founded in 1867…”
The reasons for today’s movement remain the same; removing the rights of individuals and of parents to care for their children as they see fit. Government required immunizations have invaded this liberty by forcing vaccines through fear and limitation of available services. Personal freedoms soon bled into religions ones.
There is also a consideration towards the safety of multiple vaccines. There is a large and growing population that questions whether the increase of childhood disorders and diseases (autism, allergies, cancer etc.) is specifically related to state required vaccinations. There are websites peppering the internet to these beliefs; they are dedicated to exposing the possible link between the increase of cases and the forced vaccines. These sites can offer valuable information; they offer ingredient listings of vaccines (which most assume are strictly chemical) and a support community that focuses on specifics. Some are bent on feeding conspiracies or looking for something or someone to blame.
Stories are supported from both sides:
The benefits of vaccines are generally thought to outweigh the pitfalls. For most of us we don’t think to question vaccines but when the government requires instead of recommends, a personal freedom is lost. When statistics show that 1 in 88 children will have a form of autism and “approximately 17 percent of children have some type of developmental disability…” it is no wonder that parents are seeking answers.
Renewed awareness for vaccinations is seasonal, usually happening at the beginning of school years or during flu season. The National Vaccine Information Center is airing a segment on Lifetime Television called “The Balancing Act” which covers information on Back to School Immunizations. Controversy also sparks when new vaccines are introduced. The HPV Controversy is a great example.
Statistics show there is no question of the benefit vaccines have had on societies; they have undoubtedly extended human life. They have decimated disease and saved countless human beings. That does not negate the need for caution, query and constant research. Just because a link has yet to be identified does not mean it does not exist; it is just yet to be found or proven.
Our lives begin with a vaccination, usually within mere hours of being born. We continue to be innoculated between 5 and 16 more times until we are 18 yrs old. As an adult it is recommended that we receive a flu shot each year, a dTap vaccine with a booster shot every ten years, the MMR booster and three doses of the lastest, the HPV. It is our government’s answer to public health, better living through chemistry. The question is at what cost?
The Infant Vaccination Controversy by Franklin Cameron
From the November 1998 Issue of Nutrition Science News
“For years dissenters have been raising questions about vaccines. Among them: What is the safe quantity of vaccine antigens that will not cause local, systemic and sometimes severe neurological damage in infants and children? What happens to the vaccine antigens in the body years later? Where do they go, and what are they capable of doing?4 To what degree is the introduction of live viruses via routine vaccination responsible for autoimmune diseases? What effect do live viruses, which are incorporated directly into the genetic material of our cells, have on the cells themselves?5
There are three major issues at stake. The first is Coulter’s premise that overcoming childhood diseases constitutes important stages in the development of a robust, adult immune system and that bombarding an infant’s immature immune system with live viruses actually can do more harm than good.
The second issue involves how antibodies are transferred from a mother to her child to protect an infant during its first months and years of life. If the mother had contracted and overcome measles during her childhood, she would be able to pass this immunity on to her baby, both through the placenta and by means of breast-feeding, thereby protecting the child for 12 to 15 months after birth.
Fisher recalls the measles outbreak of 198990: “A whole group of young mothers who had been vaccinated against measles, and therefore had only temporary artificial immunity, were not able to give their babies the protection their unvaccinated mothers had given them.” She observes: “We saw a lot of measles in very young babies where they did not naturally occur before. Furthermore, these babies were dying of a particularly nasty kind of measles, which aroused speculation that the virus may have mutated beyond the scope of our present vaccines.”
This leads to the third issue. By artificially suppressing these microorganisms through mass vaccinations, Fisher asks, are we causing them to evolve into more virulent forms? We’ve seen what happened when antibiotics were indiscriminately used; now humans are faced with supergerms for which there is no known defense. Fisher wonders, with vaccines, “Are we actually creating a worse problem for future generations than if we found alternative ways to live in harmony with these viruses?”
Do the benefits outweigh the alternatives? If the alternatives include increased mental disorders and weaker immune systems aren’t we simply continuing our dependence on chemistry and medications? It is hard to see immunizations and vaccines as nothing more than chemical insurance policies. The CDC says differently; there has been documented proof that disease can and will return if immunization against it ceases.
The choice is still a personal one. Most exemptions are considered and granted. Conspiracy and misinformation can do a lot of harm but it can also offer previously unknown information to the masses and raise awareness to something most people take for granted. Research and testing needs to be constant for anything we put into our bodies, especially when it is required by law. Consequences and long term effects need to be studied throughout generations. Just as evolution is gradual so is our knowledge.