Children should be vaccinated Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

We are hearing a lot in the news these days about the issue of vaccination of children, primarily because of a nationwide measles outbreak that began in a Disney park in California.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that the current outbreak has resulted in 121 cases of measles in 17 states and the District of Columbia, according to Catholic News Service.

Role of parents

The outbreak has raised concerns about parents who won’t immunize their children for a variety of reasons.

I agree that parents should make the final decision about their children’s health and well-being. There are some reasons why parents might not want their children to be vaccinated. However, parents may have  fears that are not based on scientific fact.

Some parents are afraid of vaccine side effects. There are reports of side effects that have been blamed on vaccines. But proving that the vaccine caused these side effects is often hard to do. In many cases, children simply develop illnesses around the time they’ve received a vaccine, and the immunizations get blamed unfairly. In most cases, the evidence just isn’t there to support a cause-and-effect link with vaccines.

Some worry about the connections between vaccines and autism, although a National Academy of Sciences report found no link between the two.

Are vaccines necessary?

Some parents may believe that vaccines aren’t necessary any more. After all, how many children have measles, mumps, whooping cough, or polio these days?

It is true that the CDC declared in 2000 that measles were eliminated in the United States as a result of “a highly effective measles vaccine, a strong vaccination program that achieves high vaccine coverage in children, and strong public health system for detecting and responding to measles cases and outbreaks.”

However, in 2015, our country has already has a reported 644 cases of measles. This is particularly disturbing since the median number of reported cases of measles in the years between 2001 and 2011 was only 62.

It seems as if we still need vaccinations to ensure that outbreaks do not occur.

Religious aspects

Some may refuse to vaccinate their children for religious reasons, including how the vaccines are made.

The Catholic Church has expressed concerns about vaccines manufactured from human cell lines derived from aborted fetuses. The Church has pushed for the development of morally acceptable vaccines, but the Church has urged Catholics not to reject immunizations and jeopardize the common good and their children’s well-being.

In 2005, the Pontifical Academy for Life released a study about vaccines prepared from cells from aborted fetuses. It said practicing Catholics are permitted to use the vaccines in the absence of ethical alternatives.

The Catholic Medical Association is continuing to push for the development of moral and ethical vaccine alternatives. But Dr. Kevin Donovan, pediatrician and director of the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University and a member of the association, said in a CNS article:

“I also want to clarify that nobody at the Catholic Medical Association is against vaccines. We think that vaccination is a moral good, that it’s good for patients, and that it has benefited society greatly. We have a responsibility as moral agents to protect the common good and to immunize ourselves and our children against communicable disease.”

Personal experiences

I have personal reasons for believing in the importance of vaccines.

One of my uncles — my mother’s brother — died of whooping cough (pertussis) — when he was a baby. At that time there were no vaccines to prevent whooping cough, but if there had been, he probably would have lived.

Another reason I believe in vaccines is my husband’s experience contracting polio as a child — just a year before the vaccine was introduced. He fortunately survived with excellent care at a Catholic hospital.

There have been very few cases of polio in the past 30 years, but every now and then outbreaks occur. I believe that parents should have their children vaccinated against polio and other contagious diseases for their children’s own well-being and for the good of society.