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Advantages and Disadvantages of Vaccination

Introduction

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of diseases that affect human beings. As such, researchers and medical experts have dedicated most of the available resources to ensure that both preventive and curative measures are put in place in a bid to avoid the further spread of the various diseases that pose a serious risk to the human race. The major challenge being faced globally is creating awareness of the diseases and controlling or containing their spread. A good example that validates this statement would be the swine flu outbreak that has caused major panic throughout the world since 2009. As such governments in association with medical care providers have put in place strategies to ensure that everyone is vaccinated against this killer virus.

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Thesis statement

The effectiveness of the H1N1 vaccination continues to be a highly debated topic in the medical and social community; although each side has raised genuine arguments, there are PROS and CONS to each side of the debate. This paper shall focus on these concerns all the while analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of this vaccine from each side’s point of view. As a result of this, a detailed debate shall ensue to determine whether the vaccination is necessary, beneficial or harmful to society. Recommendations shall also be made relating to the hard decisions that have to be made for the good of all humanity.

A brief history of the swine flu

Influenza viruses are a strain of viruses that infect most mammals including humans. The infected person displays symptoms such as fever, cold, cough muscular pains and fatigue. The original strand of the H1N1 virus was discovered in Lowa 1918 at the Cedar Rapids swine show. It is believed that the virus mutates rapidly and mixes with other forms of influenza viruses to come up with a new strand. As such it is very difficult to come up with the ultimate cure or even an accurate vaccine. According to Conlin (2009), the virus quickly spread in areas where there is a high population of people and domestic animals and this is why the 2009 outbreak began in Mexico and spread through America and later other countries in the world.

Problem statement

The swine flu is a killer disease that is transmitted to humans by pigs. Its symptoms are similar to those of the seasonal flu and could therefore be easily taken for granted. After it affects a human being, it spreads very fast as it can be transferred from one person to another through the same mediums as the common cold. During the 2009 outbreak, the virus had already spread before the government and medical society realized what it was. By the time they decided to take preventive measures such as quarantine and banning the importation or exportation of pork, the flu was beyond containment. Since then, most governments are insisting that everyone gets vaccinated against this deadly flu as a preventive measure while the medical facilities concentrate on containing and curing the already infected people. However the necessity of the vaccine continues to be highly debated among the communities.

Medical argument

According to statistics provided by the CDC, an estimated 36,000 Americans die each year as a result of the seasonal flu. In addition to this, the CDC claims that even if the current strain of swine flu has a lower death rate than the seasonal flu, preventive measures should be taken to ensure that the numbers do not go higher. Also they say that the current strain is more dangerous and that it poses a high risk to the young especially those born after 1957. The vaccines would be very beneficial to young children who are susceptible to various diseases because their immune systems are still developing and therefore weak. Kolata (2001) acclaims that if the world felt the full impact of the swine flu as experienced in 1918 where more than 40 million people died overnight then we would have the greatest loss of all times. This statement just goes to show how important it is to prevent such pandemics from happening further proving the importance of this vaccine. Additionally, the population levels have increased greatly over the past few decades. However, the number of medical experts is still very low in relation to the total population globally. In the event that a full blow outbreak occurs, little can be done to contain it since the required manpower would be unfairly overwhelmed and therefore the global inoculation would reduce these odds in the event that this actually happens.

Another reason why the medical community is pushing for this vaccination is because of the alarming rates at which flu rates are being reported globally. CDC claims that since April 2009, 98% of all flu cases reported in America have traces of the H1N1 virus. Within the same period, they have received a total of 274 pediatric deaths related to the 2009 H1N1 virus. This shows that the virus is beyond containment and preventive measures should be employed to avoid further spread. As a result the medical societies in conjunction with the various governments are advocating that pregnant women, the elderly and the young be vaccinated against this killer disease.

On the other hand, there are some medical professionals that are against this vaccine. According to Bauer (2009), the vaccine contains some elements which may cause differentiated health complications such as autism in children. In addition to this there is no clear information as yet pertaining to the various side effects that may come with the vaccine. This information is crucial to the public especially the old and the pregnant women as it may as well define their survival. Other medical experts insist that other prevention measures be considered before deciding on vaccination. Bauer (2009) says that maintaining high personal hygiene, proper meat inspection and availing the necessary information about the disease to the public would have a more positive effect on the prevention process than vaccination. This is because every body would exercise a certain level of caution and would therefore be less likely to contract the virus no matter how much it mutates. On the other hand, a vaccine is made specially to combat a particular disease. In the event that the virus mutates which in most cases is likely, the vaccine is rendered useless leaving the person vulnerable to the new strand. Also continuous use of drugs has been known to weaken the body’s immune system because the body becomes dependent on the drugs and cannot protect itself naturally against infections. In an era whereby everyone is required to be vaccinated against almost every illness, adding more drugs to the list makes the whole situation even worse.

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Social argument

According to Balduci (2008), the vaccine may have some diverse effects on many people. It could lead to some blood disorders in the elderly and according to data provided after a series of testing, it was discovered that most old people could not produce antibodies against the H1N1 virus even after vaccination. In addition to this, many people have expressed deep concerns about the presence of thimerosal in the vaccine. Thimerosal is a preservative that contains mercury which is believed to cause autism in children and as such, many parents are hesitating to take their children for the shots. Additionally, medical experts released information stating that there is a likely chance that the vaccine may increase the risk of getting a mental disorder called the Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Also due to the time frame between the outbreak and the development of the vaccine, many people feel like the drug has not been properly tested. This is also backed by the fact that there is a lack of information pertaining to the vaccine. Many people feel that massive information campaigns should be conducted so that the public can be reassured and have a clue of what to expect from the vaccine. Up to date, most people do not understand how vaccines work and the little they know instills fear making them opt not to get vaccinated.

From the discussion above, we see that both sides have valid reasons to support their decision. However a consensus needs to be reached in order to determine the next course of action. From society’s point of view, they are reluctant because they do not understand the vaccine and as a result they fear that it may bring further complications to their lives. Also, the governments are making the vaccination process seem mandatory and as such the public sees this move as an invasion of their rights and freedom of choice. On the other hand, the medical community has good intentions when it comes to the inoculation process. They have a clear understanding of what may happen if preventive measures are not implemented as soon as possible and that is why they are insisting that at least everybody gets vaccinated against this life threatening virus.

Wise men always said that prevention is better than cure. On this note I feel that the vaccination against the H1N1 virus is indeed necessary. This decision can best be supported by weighing the advantages and disadvantages that come with the vaccination against the Swine flu. As is with any other crucial decision, the main focus of this whole decision making structure should be what is best for humanity.

Advantages of vaccinations

The first notable advantage of the swine flu vaccine is its admission methods. The vaccine can be administered in two ways; injection or as a nasal spray. This is very considerate as it factors in the age and physical well being of the patients ensuring comfort to all that use it. In addition to this, the vaccine is free in most countries and readily available to all in others. Since it is a government duty to promote health to its citizens, many governments have taken upon themselves the duty to ensure that the drugs are readily available to all their citizens for example.

France

In addition to this, the main reason for the production of any vaccine is the prevention of diseases. It is very difficult to prevent people from socializing, travelling and even germs but preventive measures such as vaccinations can be implemented to reduce the risk of getting sick from these sources. The swine flu infection can easily be passed among people especially children and vaccination would help reduce the chances of this happening.

According to Kolata (2001), viruses are notorious when it comes to mutation. If a vaccine is created and introduced into the body, the virus mutates into a more complex and dangerous strain rendering the vaccine useless. The H1N1 virus mutates very easily into more dangerous strains. This fact makes viruses the deadliest disease causing agents ever discovered. However if a person is vaccinated and the swine flu virus mutates, the effects of the new strain would not be as bad as when a person is not vaccinated. In addition to this, some vaccines have been known t boost the overall immune system thereby preventing other diseases from attacking the person. Vaccination has also saved millions of lives globally over the decades. The eradication of small pox whooping cough can all be attributed to vaccines. Even the less developed countries have felt the impacts of vaccination despite their poor development. Therefore vaccination has helped in improving the value and quality of life.

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Disadvantages of vaccinations

Vaccination has also had its challenges over the past decades. Bauer (2009) literates that the general lack of vaccination medicines and facilities has been the major cause of pediatric deaths in most countries. Kolata (2001) further strengthens this point by saying that if people are not vaccinated against influenza, it may cause fatalities in all age brackets, disabilities and a pandemic outbreak if not contained. She continues by saying that most vaccines display side effects similar to the symptoms of the original disease but these symptoms disappear after a while.

Additionally, it has been discovered that there is a likelihood of developing complications from the vaccine if there is a history of autism in a particular family. Thimerosal, which is a preservative used in the manufacturing of the swine flu vaccine has been known to trigger autism and other mental problems especially in children due to the fact that it contains traces of mercury in it.

Another disadvantage is the fact that as years go by, more and more drugs are being developed in a bid to promote health. Due to the extensive marketing and advertisements, people end up taking almost all the drugs and in the process weaken their immune system. Balducci acclaims that constant use of drugs leads to dependency which cripples he body’s natural ability to fight infections (2008).as a result of this, in America everyone is expected to get two influenza shots for swine flu and the seasonal flu. In addition to this, the children have multiple other preventive shots lined up.

Also recent information suggests that there could be an increase in the number of brain disorders called Guillain-Barré syndrome which may be triggered by the vaccine. From these statements we see that the vaccine has not been fully tested on a mass scale in order to fully understand its effects to the various classes in society. As a result of this, the drug may be more harmful than it would be beneficial.

Due to the fact that there has been no adequate time to test the vaccine, there are major concerns from both the medical community and society about the nature of the vaccine. Many people fear that it may be a repeat of the 1976 incidence whereby the swine flu vaccine actually killed more people than the virus itself leading to major pay offs and unrest in American society back then.

Recommendations

From the discussion above, it is clear that there is a need to employ preventive measures to curb this deadly virus. The opinions of the important parties to this debate have been weighed and the advantages and disadvantages of the situation analyzed. It is therefore safe to say that the vaccination process is not only necessary but should actually be mandated all across the globe. This is because the swine flu is posing a serious threat to the existence of humanity and given its history, it may as well be the ultimate doom to our existence. As such, every thing should be done to ensure that the disease is not given a chance and if this means losing a few people to save millions more then it would be indeed a worthy cause. There are other measures that should be taken upon by each individual on a personal level. Everyone must ensure they follow the basic sanitation rules during their day to day activities such as washing hands before meals and after, seeking medical attention as soon as any symptom of influenza is visible, passing information to others about how the disease can be spread and avoided and finally, ensure that meat products that we consume are of good quality and certified by the FDA.

Conclusion

Vaccinations have been in use for a very long time now and they have helped save million of lives and changed the endings of many life stories. A brief history has been provided in this paper to help understand the source of the problem. In addition to this, a detailed debate has been offered as to why different people are for or against the new swine flu vaccine. The advantages and disadvantages of this vaccine have been mentioned and explained. Recommendations have been made as to why vaccination is a necessity in today’s world. If the recommendations are adhered to then we as the human race might just as well have given our existence another chance.

References

Balducci, L, Ershler, W & De Gaetano, G. (2008). Blood disorders in the elderly. Cambridge University Press.

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Bauer, B. (2009). Parents weigh pros, cons of H1N1 vaccine. Web.

Cbs4. (2009). H1N1 Vaccine Sparks Debate Among Parents. Web.

cdc. 2009 H1N1 Flu: Situation Update. Web.

Conlin, J, R. (2009). The American Past: A Survey of American History. Cengage Learning

Kolata, G. (2001). Flu: the story of the great influenza pandemic of 1918 and the search for the virus that caused it. Simon & Schuster.

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