Is society threatened by parents who do not vaccinate their children?
Historically, vaccines have prevented millions of premature deaths, and countless children have been saved from disfiguring diseases. But today, vaccines are becoming victims of their own success. Many people have not witnessed the diseases that vaccines protect against to the point of questioning them.
Anti-vaccination sentiment is growing rapidly in the world, and herd immunity is threatened as more and more parents decide not to vaccinate their children. There have even been outbreaks of diseases believed to be eradicated.
There are a number of reasons and factors for a parent to choose to decline immunization: religious and philosophical beliefs, freedom and individualism, misinformation about risk, and over-perception of risk. State legislatures and health departments now face a difficult challenge: respecting individual rights and freedoms while safeguarding the public welfare.
The consequences are serious not only for unprotected children, but also for the rest of society. Collective immunity is threatened as more and more parents do not want to vaccinate their children.
According to a study by The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, one of the main reasons parents express for rejecting vaccines for their children is concerns about vaccine safety.
Most of these concerns are based on information these parents have uncovered in the media or received from acquaintances in the face of government mistrust. Regardless of whether the stories come from television, the Internet, the radio, or from family and friends, parents are constantly bombarded with other people's opinions about vaccines. All of this information can be overwhelming for some parents, making it difficult for them to make their own informed decision. Many of the reports and opinions that bombard parents and cause uncertainty are directed at vaccine safety. They raise questions about short-term adverse reactions and the possibility of lasting negative effects. These safety concerns can cause parents to completely reject vaccines.
Media citing problems with vaccine components (such as thimerosal) and reporting that vaccines can cause autism, brain damage, or behavioral problems make parents more cautious and more concerned about vaccine safety.
Fear may influence some parents to choose to delay vaccines so that their child does not receive more than one vaccine at a time. They fear that the simultaneous administration of several vaccines may overload their child's immune system, and they think that allowing all vaccines to occur according to the recommended schedule will increase the safety risk.
As a result of this logic, many choose to delay vaccines to better protect their children. Many parents believe that the side effects of vaccines are more extensive than their doctors tell them and that the risks outweigh the benefits of vaccinating their children.
Emphasizing reversing mistrust in governments and the health community is paramount to remove beliefs that currently drive parents to reject one of the greatest improvements in human history.