The Importance of Childhood Vaccination Essay

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Since the introduction of vaccinations, medical science has managed to all but eliminate many formerly fatal and debilitating childhood illnesses in countries where the immunization of children is nearly universal. Diseases such as measles, mumps, diphtheria, rubella and polio have been relegated to a marginal status in developed countries with active immunization campaigns; smallpox is actually considered to have been completely eliminated from the earth, without a single case having been reported since roughly 1979 (“Childhood”). Largely centered around a study published in 1998 in the British medical journal “The Lancet”, there has been an upsurge in concerns of the safety of vaccinations and a resulting decrease in their usage. This …show more content…
The concern over the MMR vaccine began when “In 1998, Andrew Wakefield and colleagues published a paper in the journal “The Lancet”. Wakefield's hypothesis was that the MMR vaccine caused a series of events that include intestinal inflammation, entrance into the bloodstream of proteins harmful to the brain, and consequent development of autism” (“Vaccine Risks”). This caused widespread concern over the safety of the vaccine in Great Britain, so much so that “After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%” (Deer). To plainly state the effects of even this small drop of 12%, “official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported [in 2008], compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease” (Deer). A 2400% increase in the incidence of measles might have some hope of justification if the original study tying the MMR vaccine to autism were true. Sadly, a recent ruling by the second highest court in America, the United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, re-affirmed the decision of a lower court which “found that Dr. Wakefield's work had been largely discredited within the scientific community and that none of the studies indicating the presence of measles virus in autistic children had been successfully replicated by an accredited laboratory” (“Hazlehurst v. Secretary of Health and Human Servs.”). The evidence against