A tricky decision - the advantages and disadvantages of childhood immunisation explored
Childhood immunisations are common and important in keeping your baby healthy during the first few years of their life; however the physical and emotional affects on a child both during and after vaccinations have led some parents to steer away from, and skip many of these.
So here's the lowdown on immunisations; the effects, the advantages, the cons, and why some parents chose not to take up the option.
Globally, 13 million people die from infectious disease every year with over half these being children under the age of five. It is argued that with immunisation, most of these deaths could be prevented. There are nine routinely offered immunisations for babies within the UK, although offered at different ages, most are recommended to be issued at different intervals during the first year of life, either at 8, 12 or 16 weeks; with measles, mumps and rubella vaccinated against at either 12 or 15 months old. Immunising your child against diseases such as diphtheria, polio and mumps at a young age can be hugely beneficial for your child's health, both within their first year of life and in later years for several reasons. By vaccinating you can, to a certain extent, eradicate life-threatening illnesses and diseases from your babies' life. For example in most normal cases of child immunisation, once vaccinated your child should be given lifelong protection from polio, with probable lifelong protection against measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis C.
The immunisations that are offered, in theory, offer ten year protection against diphtheria and tetanus, with a three year shield form whooping cough. However with some, such as whooping cough, children who catch it later in life will experience a much milder form than those not vaccinated in their early years. Most vaccinations are given by an injection into the child and are relatively pain free, especially at such a young age, when resistance by your child is low. Also, by vaccinating your child before they start pre-school or nursery, diseases that are contagious can be kept at bay, which alongside being beneficial for your child, can have a positive affect on the wider community of your area. It is argued that the benefits of childhood immunisation far outweigh the relatively small risks of the side effects of such injections.
However, although it is recommended that children be vaccinated against most infectious and contagious diseases, some parents chose to opt out of immunising their children; this is done for several reasons and is justified by several ways of thinking. Immunisations, although researched thoroughly around the world can never be 100% fool proof, and although incidences of allergic reactions to these jabs are extremely low, they do occasionally occur. It is also argued that it is better and more beneficial for the child to catch the natural form of the disease as the immunity a person gets from experiencing the natural infection is likely to last for life, as opposed to a time limit that an immunisation is restricted to. However, the risks of complication when the natural form of the disease is caught are far higher than those associated with effects from the vaccine.
There is also the problem of the child not accepting the vaccine and there are two main reasons for this; either it has not been stored correctly and has lost it's strength, or the child simply does not 'take' to the vaccine and is not compatible. Because of this some parents see the trauma and experience of vaccinations not worth the risk, opting to let their children catch the natural form of many diseases, dealing with the consequences and effects afterwards; allocating their children lifelong immunity from many diseases, immunity that immunisations and vaccinations simply do not offer.
Immunisation is clearly a wide-ranging topic, there are strong arguments for and against immunising your child; arguments you need to take into account when thinking about vaccinations. Your doctor and health centre can help you come to a decision about immunising, but ultimately the decision is yours; exploring your options thoroughly will make this important decision a lot easier on both you and your child.
Author : Elizabeth Stansfield
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