Childhood Vaccinations: What are the Pros and Cons?

A couple of weeks ago, we shared a story about a family in Canada that was livid after their daughter was vaccinated against their wishes. The family chose not to vaccinate after their first-born child has a serious reaction to a vaccine. Childhood vaccinations are such a hotly debated topic, we thought it was important to bring it up again.

pros-cons-childhood-vaccinations
Photo Credit: Gates Foundation

This time, we’re talking about the pros and cons of childhood vaccinations. It is vital to understand, though, that like many parenting debates, vaccinations aren’t really clear-cut when it comes to pros and cons. Rather, there are potential benefits and drawbacks. The best thing you can do is make an informed choice based on your child. Talk to your doctor, take family history into account and so on.

Pros and Cons of Childhood Vaccinations: Which side Should You Take?

I was going to give you a list of the pros, then the cons, but I think it will be easier to give an argument then a flip-side.

Vaccines help eradicate serious illnesses like Polio.

Pro: Vaccines were designed to help curb outbreaks. In fact, the very first one was created to combat smallpox, one of the worst viruses to affect humanity. In general, they do a fairly good job of keeping your kids from contracting life-threatening diseases.

Con: Most of the illnesses that vaccines fight have been either eradicated or are virtually unheard of in the US. We wiped out smallpox and no longer vaccinate against it routinely, why are we still vaccinating against, say, polio, when the last case was in 1979, according to the CDC?

Vaccines are highly effective when used correctly.

Pro: The American Academy of Pediatrics states that childhood vaccinations are between 90-99% effective at preventing the illness they are designed for.

Con: 1-10% of children still end up contracting the illness. Nothing is perfect.

The benefits outweigh the risk

Pro: The benefits of getting vaccinated against major illnesses outweigh the very small risk of a reaction. Since most reactions tend to be mild, it’s preferable to get, say, a painful lump that goes away after a week from the tetanus vaccine than it is to have your jaw lock shut from the illness.

Con: When the risk affects your child, no argument in the world is going to make you believe that it was worth it. Telling a mom who lost her firstborn to a bad reaction to a vaccine that the benefits outweigh the risk is liking telling her to play Russian Roulette with her newborn.

Vaccines do not cause autism

Pro: Research does not support the claim that vaccines cause autism. Also, if you are still concerned, you can request vaccines without the mercury-based preservative.

Con: The research in question was performed by some of the biggest supporters of childhood vaccinations. Also, mercury is poisonous to humans, so why are we even using it in the first place?

Here’s the thing: when it comes to childhood vaccines, all the pros in the world aren’t going to convince those who are against them to change their mind, just like all the cons aren’t going to convince the pros to change. If you’re on the fence, though, the best thing you can do is read all the research on both sides and make a decision for yourself.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Childhood Vaccinations: What are the Pros and Cons?”

  1. “The research in question was performed by some of the biggest supporters of childhood vaccinations. Also, mercury is poisonous to humans, so why are we even using it in the first place?”

    Not true. First, there is a HUGE difference between ethyl mercury and methyl mercury. Second, the only vaccine that still contains thimerosal is some preparations of the flu vaccine, but mercury-free versions are used for children.

    1. Hi Heather! Thank you so much for responding. The article was written as a “we say, they say” type of arrangement, where I tried to present common arguments from both sides in as unbiased way as possible. I personally am pro-vaccine, and didn’t want to bias the article with that. I went in search of the most common anti-vaccine arguments to offer the other side’s viewpoint. Oddly, I expected more backlash from the anti-vaccine community, but seem to be getting it from the pro-vaccine community instead. Interesting, I guess I did a good job of representing their side too?

  2. Most of the illnesses that vaccines fight have been either eradicated or are virtually unheard of in the US. We wiped out smallpox and no longer vaccinate against it routinely, why are we still vaccinating against, say, polio, when the last case was in 1979, according to the CDC?

    Not true. Except for smallpox, all the diseases for which we currently vaccinate will come back if people stop vaccinating. Recent measles outbreaks are a good example.

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