Every country aims to protect its citizens from calamities and diseases by ensuring their health is safeguarded. Global health organizations such as WHO, UN, and the Vaccine Alliance have been in the frontline to facilitate immunization of children against some of the most common diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and tetanus. According to Hotez (2019), vaccination programs have produced significant health gains over the past decade.
The diseases that have been successfully eradicated through vaccination present some common characteristics: a human reservoir, stable pathogen, and interhuman transmission (Hotez, 2019). Despite the realized benefits, current and future vaccination programs are faced with the rising challenge of anti-vaccination campaigns calling for diplomacy to address these concerns and advocate for vaccination for a healthy society.
Vaccines have effectively curbed many infectious diseases primary based on their ability to produce antigens that prompt the body to release antibodies against infections. Every child is born with the ability to fight diseases through their immune system. As the germ enters the body, it is recognized as a foreign antigen and the body releases antibodies to fight it (Nicoli & Appay, 2017). Vaccines are introduced into the body to prepare the body to fight specific pathogens.
They contain antigens similar to those of diseases causing germs but without the symptoms of a disease. As the body releases antibodies against the antigens produced by the vaccine, memory cells are left in the body. When a similar antigen enters the body, the memory cells remember it and fight it immediately, eliminating any potential infections (McKee & Bohannon, 2016). Through this process, vaccines have effectively eliminated some of the most dangerous diseases.
The occurrence of preventable diseases in children is attributed to parents refusing to vaccinate their children despite governments’ efforts to avail these vaccines. According to Macintosh et al. (2017), three million people globally die every year from immunizable diseases. Researchers looking into vaccine hesitancy have discovered that four main factors are behind the rising anti-vaccination campaigns. These include personal beliefs, religious reasons, safety and health concerns, and lack of sufficient information (McKee & Bohannon, 2016). The staunch religious conviction against vaccination has stood out as the significant impediment against vaccination programs.
Personal philosophies have been cited by many adolescents and adults who refuse to get vaccinated. In the vaccination efforts geared towards eliminating HPV and Meningitis among adolescents, many individuals who stand against immunization believe that the vaccines have adverse effects on their immunity (Rose, 2017). Some parents believe that natural immunity supersedes the immunity developed through immunization and therefore decide against vaccination for themselves and their children. In research done by McKee and Bohannon (2016), some parents argue that a child should develop some infections in childhood to strengthen their immunity as they grow into adulthood. In other words, individuals have developed personal philosophies that stand as their validation against vaccination.
Health safety and lack of education on immunization have been quoted as two reasons that account for a small percentage of vaccine hesitancy among individuals. Some parents lack faith in the healthcare system, believing that vaccines may introduce health challenges to their childrens’ bodies (McKee & Bohannon, 2016). In other cases, individuals have argued that they need to have sufficient information before being vaccinated (Rose, 2017). Recently infections from preventable diseases such as measles have increased due to vaccine hesitancy attributed to the four factors described above.
Pros of Mandatory Vaccination
Mandatory vaccination has both benefits and downsides that require careful considerations before implementation. The main benefit of mandatory vaccination is the reduced mortality rate. Statistics have shown that 2.5 million children are saved every year from death by immunization (Macintosh et al., 2017). According to Hotez (2019), another benefit would be the improvement of health conditions in individuals because many vaccines contain safe products. It is also worth noting that mandatory vaccination safeguards society by protecting the herd against highly transmissible diseases as shown by McKee and Bohannon (2016).
The resources that would be utilized to treat diseases would then be diverted to other development programs since many would be saved from infections through vaccination (Rose, 2017). These reasons stand as motivations behind vaccination campaigns and diplomacy to limit hesitancy among parents and adolescents.
Cons of Mandatory Vaccination
Although vaccines have proved essential in fighting infectious diseases, making them compulsory would introduce some limitations. The major demerit of mandatory vaccination is the infringement of constitutional health rights as shown by Macintosh et al. (2017).
First, Canada’s health policies allow individuals to decide the treatment they would like to receive. Second, vaccines have been shown to contain elements that introduce allergy in individuals, according to McKee and Bohannon (2016). Third, Rose (2017) argues that there have been issues of severe counterreactions that have raised concerns over the health and safety of individuals. Lastly, governments need to respect and accommodate individual beliefs and religious matters, which would be interfered with through mandatory vaccination (Hotez, 2019). These demerits, though few, require careful consideration to ensure they do not hinder the vaccination programs.
In view of the described advantages and disadvantages of compulsory vaccination, it should not be introduced in Canada. As shown by McKee and Bohannon (2016), vaccines have saved many lives in the past decade. Although immunization has economic and social benefits, the government should not interfere with individual’s personal opinions and right to health. In my opinion, the best alternative would be to educate the public and leave them to make informed choices.
Hotez, P. (2019). Immunizations and vaccines: A decade of successes and reversals, and a call for ‘vaccine diplomacy’. International Health, 11(5), 331-333. Web.
Macintosh, J., Eden, L., Luthy, K., & Schouten, A. (2017). Global immunizations. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 42(3), 139-145. Web.
McKee, C., & Bohannon, K. (2016). Exploring the reasons behind parental refusal of vaccines. The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics : JPPT : The Official Journal Of PPAG, 21(2), 104–109. Web.
Nicoli, F., & Appay, V. (2017). Immunological considerations regarding parental concerns on pediatric immunizations. Vaccine, 35(23), 3012-3019. Web.
Rose, K. C. (2017). Adolescent vaccines: latest recommendations, addressing barriers, and improving vaccine rates. NASN School Nurse, 32(4), 217–222. Web.