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Applying Ethical Principles in Determining Vaccination Decisions

Vaccines have often been used to boost young children’s immunity, generally below 3 years. Regarding the non-maleficence principle, the vaccination process does not harm children but instead enhances their immunity. Children are able to behave in a stable health system and would not be exposed to diseases. Also, the beneficence principle encourages health workers to take positive and direct steps in helping children. The obligation of health workers is to enable parents to allow their children to take part in the immunization process as it helps the greater lot. Besides, health workers should allow parents to make their decisions concerning vaccinating their children. Health workers should not judge parents even in their skeptical mindset about the vaccination process.

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The health ethics does not allow for health workers to instill fear among parents who are vaccine-hesitant. Coercing parents to make decisions aligned to one’s perspective is unethical. However, immunization has been encouraged globally as it reduces the occurrence of diseases that can be contained by vaccines. Also, health workers should follow the due process of vaccinating children as stated in the justice principle. This will enable patients to be satisfied and happy with the services provided by health workers. The use of vaccines has enhanced global health security as it is cost-effective in preventing diseases. However, many parents, such as Jena and Chris Smith, have remained skeptical about the effects of vaccination. According to Jena and Chris Smith, vaccines cause Autism among children leading to children losing interest in social interactions and verbal communication. This essay discusses the effects of Vaccines on young children.

Ethical Problem

Side effectsects of vaccines are mild and can lead to severe long-term body disorders if not treated with immediate effect. The most common effects of the vaccine include swelling where the injection was applied, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, non-stop crying, and mild fever (Karafillakis et al., 2016). Side effectsects of vaccination have caused panic among young parents, including Jena and Chris Smith. Hence, posing as a significant problem. Every parent desires to see their children grow without facing any health issues. Vaccination has hence created dilemmas among parents who are undecided about whether to vaccinate their children or not. Scientists have worked day and night to come up with vaccines that enhance global health security. Most educated parents like Jena and Chris Smith are aware of the impending long-term side-effects of vaccines regardless of their efficiency.

Infectious diseases have always affected lives and led to an increase in mortality rates because of the impounding effects that institutes have been set up to ensure the efficiency of vaccines. According to the World Health Organization, 75% of the world’s child population has been immunized against impending Tetanus illnesses. Some of the diseases, such as Polio that lead to disability among children, have been drastically reduced through vaccination. However, the poliovirus is still intact, but the vaccines have enabled the prevention of the spread of Polio. Besides, there is a wide range of vaccines that have been recommended by the World Universal Health Care. According to (Karafillakis et al., 2016), it is upon each country to weigh on the benefits and effects of Vaccines before initiating the vaccination program. However, there has been growing distrust among the general public over the effectiveness of vaccines.

The Jonsen model developed by Dr. Albert Jonsen has enabled medical practitioners to solve vaccination complexity on young children. In this ethical decision-making theory, parents and doctors assess the history and data of various vaccines on patients before making their final decisions (Baay et al., 2019). This model enables young parents to assess the impacts, facts, and opinions before deciding to vaccinate their children. However, it is a complex task in deciding the capacity of a child to undertake vaccination is overlooked. Long-term effects of vaccines include; loss of vision due to the spread of vaccines to the eyes, rashes on the body, severe infection, and death.

Ethical and Communication Approaches

Ethical concerns about vaccination have come up randomly across all stakeholders involved in the vaccination process, including the policymakers. There has been an increase in concern about immunization practices that do not follow the right clinical process. For example, childhood immunization in the United States has been affected by policymakers. Vaccine communication is vital since not all people have access to diverse research on the use of vaccines. An average number of the global population is well versed in the effects of vaccination. Ethical issues relating to vaccination can be rife, especially where countries set policies for the immunization of children before entry into schools.

Ethical approaches are an intersection of decision-making frameworks that include the outcome, virtue, and duty-based. Clinical professionals always make critical decisions on handling families that refuse to vaccinate their children despite being enlightened about the vaccination process. Parents who are hesitant to vaccinations often have beliefs regarding the vaccination process that they choose to uphold. Most of the parents normally read different blogs concerning vaccines. Hence, they change their perception towards the vaccination process to develop their beliefs that are motivated by their extensive research on different platforms.

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Communication can be done to parents in different forms, including verbal, non-verbal, and written communication. However, barriers can hinder the communication process. For instance, the language barrier can lead to distortion of the intended information. Communication approaches, such as the presumptive approach, can be used to lure vaccine-hesitant parents. In the presumptive approach, parents are asked to recommend vaccines that they wish would affect their children (Baay et al., 2019). Also, the participatory approach is used where parents’ input is needed on whether to vaccinate their children or not. The third communication approach used is the guiding approach. This approach keeps parents informed on their concerns and fears about specific vaccines.

The participatory and guiding approaches are not effective since the parents can leave the health provider’s office without vaccinating their children. Hence, children can be exposed to the risk of acquiring an illness that could be avoided through immunization. These communication approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. Communication approaches enable health providers to clear doubts among parents and avoid misunderstandings. Vaccine discussions by health providers usually create emotions among families. Besides, an ethical conflict is likely to occur when parents are caught up in the recommendations of a health provider and what they see best for their children. In most cases, health providers have no choice but to respect the family’s decision and avoid pushing them further to accept vaccinating their children.

Ethical Principles

The ethics principle recommends that health care providers do anything possible to benefit the patient regarding treatment and procedures. The principle of informed consent requires parents to give their approval before any process, such as immunization, is applied to their children (Karafillakis et al., 2016). However, parents should be informed of the repercussions of failing to undertake vaccination. They should also be made aware of the effects of this medical intervention since some children may have weak immunity. Hence, health providers may choose not to recommend vaccinating children (Karafillakis et al., 2016). Educating families of extensive information about vaccines will also enable them to make well-informed decisions. Parents are informed of the harm they may cause to their children if they choose to ignore the immunization process.

Autonomy is also one of the ethical principles where families are given the freedom to self-determine their choice of vaccine decisions on vaccination (Karafillakis et al., 2016). In this case, health providers must respect the decisions of parents, even if they disagree with the patient’s decision. Dr. Kerr should respect the decision of the Smiths not to vaccinate Ana. Also, Justice is another ethical principle that allows all patients to be treated without impartiality (Karafillakis et al., 2016). In this case, health providers are required to treat all patients fairly by providing quality services to all patients regardless of their social classes. Applying justice to all will enable the public to gain trust in a provider’s health services. Hence, they would easily make decisions regarding the health provider’s recommendation.


Vaccination is beneficial regardless of the adverse effects that come along. Communities should be sensitized through seminars on vaccines’ advantages as they enable them to strengthen their children’s immunity. However, parents’ autonomy in deciding whether to vaccinate their children should be prioritized to avoid complexity and mistrust. Also, the concept of herd immunity can be maximized in communities to improve health security, especially during these times of vaccine debates. Deliberate efforts should be made by health providers and policymakers that accommodate families’ views on vaccination procedures. Policies developed should be sound as they affect the communities directly. Also, policies that force parents to vaccinate their children before they are enrolled in different schools should be revised. Besides, the media platforms should be accorded the responsibility to sensitize people on health matters to enable a wide range of people to be informed about different diseases.


Baay, M. F., Richie, T. L., Neels, P., Cavaleri, M., Chilengi, R., Diemert, D.,… & Laurens, M. (2019). Human challenge trials in vaccine development, Rockville, MD, USA, September 28–30, 2017. Biologicals, 61, 85-94.

Karafillakis, E., Dinca, I., Apfel, F., Cecconi, S., Wűrz, A., Takacs, J.,… & Larson, H. J. (2016). Vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers in Europe: A qualitative study. Vaccine, 34(41), 5013-5020.

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