An is the safety of vaccination of

An issue that is very important and
widely debated issue in today’s news is the safety of vaccination of
children.  A vaccine is a biological
agent that provides active acquired immunity to a disease by activating the
body’s natural antibodies. Vaccination is the most effective method of
preventing infectious diseases and creating widespread immunity. Although in
recent years vaccinations have been linked to health defects and some parents
are choosing to not vaccinate their children altogether.

The practice of immunization dates
back hundreds of years. There are many different vaccines for a plethora of
different diseases. There is even a subcategory of medicine called
vaccinology.  The techniques first began
when Buddhist monks drank snake venom to confer immunity to snake bites. They
would smear their skin with cowpox to confer immunity to smallpox. Variolation
was also practiced in 17th century China. These techniques were later further
developed by Edward Jenner who is the founder of vaccinology in the West. In
1796 Jenner successfully demonstrated his technique for vaccination by
vaccinating a 13 year-old-boy with the vaccinia virus or cowpox, and
demonstrated adaptive immunity to smallpox. Afterwards, in 1798, the first smallpox
vaccine was developed. Jenner’s innovation was used for 200 years, with
updates, and eradicated smallpox.

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After this, the research and
development of vaccines for different diseases flourished. The systematic
distribution of the smallpox immunization leads to its global eradication in
1979. Louis Pasteur a renowned French biologist spearheaded the development of
a live weakened cholera vaccine and an inactivated anthrax vaccine in humans.
He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and prevention
of diseases, and his discoveries have saved many lives ever since. The Plague
vaccine was also invented in the late 19th Century by Waldemar Haffkine.
Between 1890 and 1950, bacterial vaccine development multiplied. In 1923,
Alexander Glenny perfected a method to use inactivate tetanus toxin with
formaldehyde. The same method was used to develop a vaccine against diphtheria
in 1926. Pertussis vaccine development took considerably longer, with a whole
cell vaccine first licensed for use in the US in 1948. Viral tissue culture
methods developed from 1950-1985, and led to the advent of the Salk polio
vaccine and the Sabin polio vaccine. Mass polio immunization has now eradicated
the disease from many regions around the world.

Vaccine development is a long and
complicated process. It often takes 10 to 15 years to develop a new vaccine.
The current system of developing, testing, and regulating vaccine development
is regulated by the federal government. This all began at the end of the 19th
century. Several vaccines for humans had been developed. Smallpox, rabies,
plague, cholera, and typhoid vaccines. But, at the time there was no regulation
of vaccine production at the time. On July 1, 1902, the U.S. Congress passed an
act to regulate the sale of viruses, serums, toxins, and analogous products.
This was later referred to as the Biologics Control Act. This was the first
modern federal legislation to control the quality of drugs. This act emerged in
part as a response to contamination events in St. Louis and Camden involving
smallpox vaccine and diphtheria antitoxin. The Act created the Hygienic
Laboratory of the U.S. Public Health Service to oversee the manufacture of
biological drugs. The Hygienic Laboratory eventually became the National
Institutes of Health. The Act established the government’s right to control the
establishments where vaccines were made. The United States Public Service Act
of 1944 mandated that the federal government issue licenses for biological
products, including vaccines. After the cutter vaccine accident in 1954. In
this incident, more than 200,000 children received a defective version of the
polio vaccine manufactured by cutter laboratories. This defective vaccine
resulted in 40,000 cases of polio within a month leaving 200 children with
varying degrees of paralysis and killing 10. 
After this our federal government created the Division of Biologics
Standards was formed to oversee vaccine safety and regulation. Later, the DBS
was renamed the Bureau of Biologics, and it became part of the Food and Drug
Administration. It is now known as the Center for Biologics Evaluation and
Research. In the European Union, the European Medicines Agency supervises
regulation of vaccines and other drugs. A committee of the World Health Organization
makes recommendations for biological products used internationally. Many
countries have adopted the WHO standards.

Vaccinations have been a common
practice in modern medicine for centuries but in recent years some doctors
claim that this practice can be linked to issues later in a child’s life. Such
as autism, In Feb. 1998 Lancet published an article by Andrew Wakefield, MD,
titled “Illegal-Lymphoid-Nodular Hyperplasia, Non-Specific Colitis, and
Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Children.” The article claimed that
the Rubella virus is associated with autism and the combined measles, mumps,
and that the rubella vaccine could also be connected. Anti-vaccination groups
and parents began using Wakefield’s article as the rationale to opt-out of
vaccinating their children.

In 2012 an investigative reporter
Brian Deend examined the story and published 36 articles accusing Wakefield of
falsifying medical histories of children and fabricating documents, which was
the picture he was contracted to find by lawyers hoping to sue vaccine
manufacturers and to create a vaccine scare. On Mar. 3, 2004 ten of the twelve
co-authors of Wakefield’s article released a Retraction in Lancet, stating
“We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established
between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient.” Lancet
retracted Wakefield’s article on Feb. 2, 2010, stating “it has become
clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield were
incorrect.”  On Jan. 5, 2011, the
British Journal of -Medicine published an article stating that Wakefield
received over $674,000 from lawyers and that, of 12 children examined, five had
developmental problems before being vaccinated and three never had autism. As a
result, on May 24, 2011, Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license,
stating Wakefield had “abused his position of trust” and
“brought the medical profession into disrepute.” Wakefield contends
that the investigation of his work is part of a conspiracy to “discredit
and silence his research” in order to “shield the government from
exposure to the vaccine scandal.” Some parents are concerned about the
long-term effects of vaccinating their children which can include autism, ADHD,
and diabetes.

On the other side parents feel it
should be necessary for children to be vaccinated to protect not only
individual children from preventable epidemic diseases such as measles or
smallpox but also the community from these destructive diseases. The center for
disease control recommends getting 29 doses of 9 different vaccines for
children age 0 to six. Currently, there are no federal laws that force parents
to get their children vaccinated but in every state student going to public
school require certain vaccinations, but most allow for specific medical or
religious exemptions some even allow for philosophical exemptions.  Those in favor of vaccination believe it is
one of the greatest health developments of the 20th century and is a practice
that has controlled the spread of many diseases since the practice was
invented. On July 9, 1999, in response to growing concern over a link between
vaccination and autism, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Public
Health Service recommended that thimerosal is removed from vaccines as soon as
possible. However, they also stated that, “there are no data or evidence
of any harm caused by the level of exposure that some children may have
encountered in following the existing immunization schedule” and that
“the large risks of not vaccinating children far outweigh the unknown and
probably much smaller risk, if any, of cumulative exposure to
thimerosal-containing vaccines over the first 6 months of life.” In May
2003, Representative Dan Burton released a report titled “Mercury in
Medicine – Taking Unnecessary Risks” where he asked that the FDA remove
thimerosal from the flu vaccine and recommended independent research on the
link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism.

Both sides have their points and
merits which is why this has become such a divisive topic over time. The Idea
to pre-expose patients to a specific pathogen in a controlled environment so
that they might develop an immunity that disease is a practice in medicine that
has been used for centuries. But this has always come with the inherent risk.
Whether it be contracting the actual disease that the child is being immunized
from or the unexpected side effect of the vaccine its self. There is simply not
enough information out there to satisfy every person who is skeptical about
vaccination. But the merits of vaccinations are great. They protect all the
community from widespread epidemics and can eradicate some diseases altogether
if vaccinations for those diseases continue.