Vaccines In Modern Society

Vaccines have become a controversial topic in across the world in terms of the risks associated with them being compared to the benefits and efficiency of them.

According to the World Health Organisation (2019), a vaccine is a substance that prepares the immune system for biological harm and thereby improves resistance to the disease. It usually contains a reagent that mimics a micro-organism that causes disease and is generally made from weakened or dead forms of the microbe or parts of it. The reagent allows the immune system to recognize the reagent as foreign, destroy it and 'remember' it, so that the immune system can recognize and destroy any of these micro-organisms that it may encounter in the future.

GlaxoSmithKline, Aspen PharmaCare, Department of health – SA (2010) advertise commencement of the “Expanded Programme on Immunisation in South Africa” to ensure the mandatory vaccinations of children specifically. The programme includes the schedule of all the following vaccines: “BCG and polio. diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, haemophillus type B, and pneumococcal conjugate. Measles. influenza. e, rotavirus, measles,” at the ages at which they should be administered and with the way they are administered. The Department of Basic Education has also made it mandatory for parents or guardians to provide proof of immunisation as part of the registration procedure to enroll children in schools as a form of internal control to discourage the avoidance of vaccinations and therefore disease. The government also allows the voluntary use of the following vaccines: “Pneumococcal, Meningococcal, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and, Herpes Zoster Vaccines”.

There are several justifications to have oneself immunized. The obvious reason to vaccinate is to allow one’s body to build resistances to dangerous diseases. Another plainly obvious reason is that vaccinations are mandatory and are generally necessary for one to be allowed to enroll in schools due to the code of conduct’s demands. Certain diseases have been eradicated so that one’s descendants do not have to get vaccinations anymore due to the disease’s absence. Immunization helps to protect not only oneself but others around them in their community. It is still possible for one to get a disease that they have been vaccinated against. To help reduce the likelihood of the spread of diseases, it is necessary that everyone who can get vaccinated are fully immunized. This both protects one’s family while also helping to prevent the spread of diseases to others.

Unfortunately, criticism of vaccines has recently risen. It is, in fact, true that vaccines have resulted in deaths as recorded by the PMC National Library of Medicine (2015) in the United States of America; the World Health Organisation (2019) has also attributed some deaths to vaccines. The largest controversy surrounding vaccines is that particularly the “MMR” or “Measles, Mumps and Rubella” vaccination can cause autism – this claim comes from Andrew Wakefield et al after completing a highly invalid investigation. Although it is still currently seen as “true” by the common populace, it has been proven false as reported by both T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao and Chittaranjan Andrade (2011). and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (n. d). On top of that the study that supposedly proved its connection to the mental condition had poor reliability and validity with selectively chosen subjects in a small test sample. Another reason that people may reject vaccinations is due to religious obligations – the idea that being protected by large pharmaceutical’s vaccines “removes God” from one’s life since God is no longer “credited” for the protection of people as claimed by Dr Suzanne Humphries. There can be several other religious arguments against immunisation.

Another justification for one to neglect inoculation is the idea that since the diseases are already “extinct” or never reported in recent years, it is unnecessary for one to go to receive vaccines. People also remember the story of Edward Jenner’s first use of the vaccine and how he exposed his test subject to a potentially dangerous disease that did, in fact, cause illness in the subject. They then attribute this risk to the modern, tested, largely safe vaccines of today while also disliking the prospect of the minor sickness in Edward Jenner’s story.

Vaccinations were hardly discussed or even mentioned within South Africa before 2013 as stated by Michelle Nel (2005). This can probably be attributed to the fact that it was not compulsory then. Now South Africa finds itself within the worldwide controversy around vaccinations. In developed countries, one is compensated for damages done by vaccines while in South Africa no mention has been made for such reparations. Although one would think that this would make vaccinations more controversial, South Africa has so much more controversial health arguments ranging from HIV to the waiting lines in government hospitals that vaccines are still rarely spoken about.

10 October 2020
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