Vaccination was first introduced globally for small pox and later on extended to other communicable diseases which are now known as vaccine preventable disease. Vaccination is beneficial both for individuals and community. This bring us to the ethical dilemma - Vaccination of a healthy child with the intention of protecting both the individual child and the community at the same time exposing the child to the theoretical risk of exposure to disease products whether live, attenuated or killed. There was a time when people never questioned the government or their physicians. Now because of more public awareness and accessibility to medical information, they are questioning the safety aspects of vaccines.
Most of the time parents take decision for a minor, even in the worst scenarios their decisions are always for the best interest of the child. Parental autonomy should always be respected unless the child is at greatest risk for not getting the vaccine.
Is it justifiable to scare the public by the statement by not vaccinating yourself or your child it poses a threat for the community? Who has the right to take a decision for a child – parent or physician or the legislation? Whose interest is to protect a community by vaccination – the government, the legislation, the pharmaceutical companies, researchers, physician or the individual?
Mrs. A with her new born is at a pediatric clinic. She is been advised to vaccinate her baby for a disease X,Y, and Z. Mrs A has a discussion with Dr.D regarding the benefits of vaccines, possible side effects and why her baby needs to be vaccinated. She understands the benefits and the risks, but decides not to immunize her baby because she believes that her baby is not at risk of contracting the diseases. Dr.D explains further to her that the risks pertaining to immunization are minimal and it would only be beneficial for her and the baby. Mrs. A sticks to her decision. Who is right and who is wrong here? Does the parent hold a right to refuse immunization for her baby?
In the 1800s, compulsory vaccination against small pox was introduced into Europe and some states in the USA which contributed to the success and subsequent eradication of small pox2. In 1971, small pox legislation was annulled in UK2. Childhood vaccination is no longer compulsory in UK since 20042. In USA the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended an immunization schedule which is a non mandatory one. Most states in USA has adopted this policy and require the children to be vaccinated in order to attend day care centers and public schools in which case vaccination becomes mandatory.2 Exemptions are allowed for medical reasons whereas it is limited for religious and philosophical reasons in 20 US states3.
Risks and Benefits of Vaccination
Vaccines are one of most successful and cost effective public health preventive tool in current century for preventing communicable diseases. According to...