While vaccination is compulsory in developing countries like India and Bangladesh, parents in the United States cannot vaccinate their children. The number of children who don’t receive vaccination has quadrupled since 2001.
The recent politicization of the COVID-19 vaccine has added another burden on the vaccination rate.
Nassau, N.Y. ranks worst on antivaccination, with over 14.2% unvaccinated kids, well above the national refusal rate of just 3.3%. (According to 2019 report)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) officers are concerned about children who go to kindergarten and preschool because they aren’t receiving the minimum necessary protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.
The national level hasn't seen much change in the number of parents who vaccinate their children against those who don’t. That is because it is an average of all years combined, and 17 years is too short a period to make a massive change in numbers.
A CDC analysis confirmed that over 1.3% of children born in 2015 didn’t receive even one of the recommended vaccinations. It was a sharp increase compared to 0.9% in 2011 and 0.3% in 2001. Amanda Cohn, senior adviser for vaccines at CDC and a pediatrician, said that over 100,000 children under two years aren’t vaccinated against 14 deadly illnesses.
More than eight million children were born in the last two years, but this trend has got health officials worried. On talking about vaccination, Cohn said that there are two types of parents. One who chooses not to get their children vaccinated and others who want to but cannot do so.
Measles, which was eradicated from the United States in 2001, returned to the country in 2008 with 64 cases reported. In 2017, Minnesota went through the worst measles outbreak in a very long time. Several rumors started making rounds that American citizens against immigrants coming into the state spread wrong information about the measles vaccine.
Almost all 75 children who contracted the disease were Somali American children. Two more likely causes of parents not vaccinating their children include urban-rural disparity and lack of proper insurance coverage. In 2017, two percent of children between the age of 19 to 35 months in rural areas of the United States didn’t receive the recommended vaccination.
Another data revealed that seven percent who weren’t vaccinated in 2017 did not have insurance. 0.8 percent of them had private insurance, and one percent had Medicaid. CDC is especially concerned that children who have Medicaid and are uninsured are eligible for free vaccination under the Vaccines for Children program, which the federal government funds.
What started the Anti-Vaccination Movement?
It all began during the 1800s in the United States and England when people rebelled against smallpox vaccination, forming an anti-vaccination league. Edward Jenner, the physician who pioneered the smallpox vaccine, told parents that he could prevent their children from getting the disease if he injected the young ones with the lymph fluid of cowpox blister. Even though his idea was a brilliant one, he was publicly criticized for the discovery.
Parents were scared and fearful about the vaccine and losing their children if they were injected with it. While for the remaining ones, it was about moral standards because it was against personal liberty.
The American government passed the Vaccination Act of 1853 that compulsory vaccination of children up to three months old. Another law, the Act of 1867, made vaccination mandatory for children up to 14 years of age. The immediate penalty would be authorized in case of refusal. Instead of calming down the resistance movement, it only got aggravated, leading to the launch of several anti-vaccine journals and magazines.
The controversy surrounding Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vaccine elevated during the mid-1970s in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Because to a report released by Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, in the United Kingdom, more than 36 children suffering from neurological damage after getting the vaccine.
The measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine controversy is the most recent one. Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor, announced publicly that more research needs to be done to see if there is a possible connection between the vaccine and autism and bowel syndrome.
After that, he said that the vaccine wasn’t adequately tested before released for public use. All this happened in 1998, and after almost two decades, in 2010, Wakefield revealed that a law board bribed him to spread the wrong information. He was disbarred and wasn’t allowed to practice medicine ever again.
Social, Ethical, and Legal perspective
As human beings, everyone has the right to choose what they want to put in their body or not. However, it doesn’t mean who puts the lives of others at risk. We live in a society where we are dependent on one another for survival. Keeping the truth about not being vaccinated is against your ethical responsibilities.
A clear and transparent mode of communication should be practiced so that people are aware of any significant danger. Creating a safe healthcare system that goes beyond boundaries and protects social harmony should be taken. A health information system with a definite structure should be established so that people receive unbiased and personalized accommodation, despite their beliefs about vaccination. It should also help develop a preventive vaccination strategy.
On the other hand, physicians should respect the choices made by parents and other people. In such situations, clinically judging them won’t help the case. All communities should practice vaccination record-keeping, which can be easily accessed by health and medical agencies under the federal government. Individuals who are against vaccination should sign an authenticated form, which should be added to the online system to maintain a clear record.
So, let us build healthcare without boundaries where vaccination isn’t forced and considered a valuable option to protect everyone from deadly yet preventable diseases, ethical, legal, and health risks.
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