Children’s Vaccines: Necessary and Relevant

Children are required to undergo vaccinations before enrolling in American public schools, but in recent years, some have questioned their necessity and effectiveness. Doubt has been cast not only on their risk versus their benefit, but on their potentially antiquated purposes. Concerned parents question why their children need protection from diseases that no longer exist, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood vaccinations are just as necessary and relevant as ever.
One of the arguments against vaccinations is that vaccine-preventable diseases have been eliminated from American society, rendering the vaccinations themselves useless. There are many once-common illnesses that, for the most part, aren’t traditionally treated in contemporary hospitals anymore – smallpox, for example – but that doesn’t eliminate the need for your child to be vaccinated. While it’s true that vaccinations have reduced most vaccine-preventable diseases to low levels in developed countries, the CDC reminds parents that some of these diseases still exist – sometimes in epidemic proportions – in other countries.
American travelers visiting these countries, or residents of these areas visiting the States, can unknowingly bring these diseases with them. Many of these illnesses are highly contagious and could spread quickly if the populace is not protected. Even a very small number of infected persons can create an epidemic among an unvaccinated population. Childhood vaccinations, as well as those required through the teenage and adult years, are necessary to protect our own families, as well as those around us. There are a small number of people who can’t receive vaccinations due to allergies and there are those who are resistant to vaccine components for one reason or another. This group, while small, is vulnerable to diseases that most of us consider obsolete.
Another common misconception is that vaccines are not effective because the majority of people who contract the diseases have indeed received their childhood vaccinations. While it’s true that some vaccinated people can contract an illness during an outbreak, studies have shown that vaccinations are 98 percent effective when used as recommended. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but most routine childhood vaccinations are effective for 85 to 95 percent of recipients. The ability to accept immunity through vaccinations depends on the complexities of each individual’s body. In a group of people who contract the measles, for example, it’s likely there will be more vaccinated people who are infected compared to those who aren’t – but this is to be expected in a society where the numbers of vaccinated citizens vastly outnumber those who are unprotected.
It’s understandable that parents would be concerned about their children’s health and wary of potentially harmful vaccines, but it’s important to know the truth about their necessity for every American child. Far from damaging, vaccines have served their purpose for decades, and will continue to do so. Although there are no guarantees that shots will protect all children from every illness, there is a guarantee that without them, epidemics of potentially life-threatening diseases would be much more likely to occur.