Pros & cons of vaccinations

Written by s. herlihy
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Vaccination is the process of triggering a reaction in the immune system with a small amount of the biological material that causes an illness. An inoculation can provide you with immunity to the actual disease. People have been vaccinated for hundreds of years. Most children now will get protection for more than three dozen illnesses by the time they reach their 50th birthday. Getting fully vaccinated has many advantages that extend even to those who cannot get vaccinated because of an underlying medical condition.

Protection Against Disease

Most vaccines offer full protection against certain specific illnesses. For example, according to the Immunization Action Coalition, the measles vaccine--administered as part of the MMR or Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine--provides protection for roughly 95 per cent to 97 per cent of children who receive a single dosage. Measles is an extremely contagious illness with many serious side effects, including the potential for long-term brain damage. Vaccination allows you to greatly lower your risks of catching the illness should you come into contact with it.

Reduction in Severity of Illness

Even if you get a vaccine you may still get the illness. However, a vaccination can help reduce the severity of the illness. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics a dose of chickenpox (varicella) vaccine given to a small child when the child is between 12 and 18 months can help the child avoid the disease altogether as well as greatly reduce the effects of chickenpox should the child come into contact with someone with the illness. This can mean the difference between painful itching sores all over a child's body and a handful of slightly unpleasant lesions.

Herd Immunity

Vaccination does not just protect the person being vaccinated. A vaccine also protects the people around them. Many vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as polio and diphtheria, are extremely contagious. To spread such germs rely on a vast pool of human hosts that provide a means of new infections. Once a significant percentage of the community has been vaccinated and the rate of illness transmission greatly reduced the rate of the disease within the community will fall drastically. Vaccine-induced illness decline is called herd immunity. Some people are unable to get vaccinated due to underlying medical conditions such as organ transplants that necessitate taking drugs that suppress the immune system. Others may have known allergies to vaccine ingredients. Vaccination helps protect those who cannot get vaccinated by reducing or even completely eliminating outbreaks of illness altogether.

Side Effects

Nearly all immunisation have a risk of side effects. Most side effects are minor such as pain at the injection site or a fit of high pitched crying in an infant. Occasionally some people will experience more severe side effects, such as seizures or extremely high fever. If you react this way, you should speak to you doctor about further immunisation. You may be advised against them.

Vaccine Failure

A vaccination may not work initially. Multiple doses may be necessary to provide protection against an illness. In a minority of cases even repeated doses may not induce a significant reaction and thus leave you open to potential infection.

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