Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Vaccination Controversy

With the recent increase in whooping cough cases, the topic of vaccinations is back in the news again. I never imagined that vaccinations could be such a controversial subject. I have friends who are both for and against immunizations and they've all expressed valid concerns about the subject. When I try to research the topic, I find that there are "experts" on both sides of the issue who also disagree with each other.

Immunizations are credited with the decrease of diseases like Polio, Malaria, Small Pox, and Diphtheria but, over the years, some have claimed that vaccines may be responsible for the rise in autism or cancer in children. I don't believe this theory has been proven, but it has caused some people to think twice before immunizing their kids.

The Risks- There are risks associated with almost everything we do. Even eating certain foods can be fatal to those with allergies so, obviously, there is going to be an occasional risk of having an adverse reaction after introducing harmful substances into the body of a child.  Likewise, there is also a risk that those who choose not to immunize against infectious diseases  many later become infected with and have a more serious bout of illness with those diseases.

Our immune systems do an amazing job of protecting us from disease, but I sometimes wonder if it is better to allow your body to do so naturally, rather than inject a syringe full of potential threats in an attempt to avoid future infections. I've also wondered why some of these vaccines are given to a newborn so quickly after birth. An infant's body is so vulnerable and under so much stress, and I have wondered if that is really the ideal time to do so.

This is a heated debate. Some people who are against vaccinations claim that immunizations are simply a big pharma operation to profit those who produce immunizations and claim you need to follow the money. On the other hand, I've seen physicians or medical experts who expresses concerns about infant immunization schedules or question some of the current practices, and they are thrown under the bus in an attempt to discredit them and make them look like they want to see kids die.

After reading the ingredients contained in vaccines, I have wondered if some ingredients like mercury, phenoxyethanol, or aluminum, are really necessary. I'm no doctor, but it seems like some of the ingredients vaccines contain are things the FDA would shut down a business for if they found them in their food products. I don't think immunizations are bad, but I question 1) the sudden rise in having so many recommended new ones, 2) the early age at which they are recommended, and 3) how they frequently combine many of them together at the same time.

The concept behind immunizing the masses requires community participation, and that can be frustrating for immunization advocates when a parent decides not to immunize their kids due to religious reasons or out of concern for their child's health. I've heard those who don't want to immunize question why they are a threat to those who are already immunized. 

I'm no science expert. I'm more of a "go with your gut and common sense" kind of guy, but I want to learn more about this topic. I think it is important for people (including myself) to research and get more facts, rather than rely on horror stories, scare tactics, theories, or peer pressure from either side. I find it ironic that those who debate both sides of this topic actually do it for the same reason: to protect their children. The challenge with this topic is the same challenge we have with many other aspects of life: How to determine the truth.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this subject, but please refrain from the usual name calling, broad generalizations, and disrespectful attitude that frequently accompanies this debate. That kind of stuff gives off bad vibes and is not good for you, and this is a health and fitness site, so we don't want any of that here. 

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