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Most babies grow and develop in a peaceful bubble for nearly 9 months with hardly any physical environmental exposure. Even though babies are born with an immune system, they still need help to fight off tough germs and potentially deadly diseases. Vaccines for children are administered to help strengthen their immune system by providing very small amounts of antigens that cause their immune system to go to work. Vaccines do not overload the system but instead help the immune system to recognize and fight off these potentially deadly germs. New parents are either on board or not, hence the hesitancy behind vaccines for children.
Vaccine hesitancy, also known as anti-vax, is the refusal to be personally vaccinated or have one’s child vaccinated against contagious diseases. Developing a vaccine takes years to create and test. There are multiple phases of testing including everything from safety to effectiveness. On top of that, there are years of studies on how well it is doing to help rid off the contagious diseases they were designed for. Even with all the scientific evidence about the safety and efficiency of vaccines, anti-vaxers still remain uncertain or willing to accept that vaccines could save lives.
Hesitency In Providing Vaccines For Children
While most children follow the recommended vaccination schedule or a slightly modified version, CDC data reveals that there is a growing percentage of small children not getting their recommended shots. There are strong opinions on both sides of the aisle of whether or not vaccines for children are necessary. Some of these opinions are full of misinformation leading to fear-based decision making. Getting a child vaccinated is a family decision and one that cannot be forced upon any family. Lets discuss some of the reasons why parents may not vaccinate their children.
Philosophical Exemption: This could be any reason to not vaccinate due to personal, moral, or other beliefs outside of religious beliefs. There are 15 states that allow this type of exemption for parents to protect their child from the vaccine schedule and still attend school. An example of a personal decision or belief is that a parent might feel that a child should experience illnesses to boost their immunity hence why their child will not receive vaccines.
Religious Beliefs: Many states, 45 to be exact, allow parents the religious freedom, protected by the first amendment, to exempt their child from vaccines and still give them the option to attend school. There are some instances where religious beliefs do not warrant the use of putting “chemicals” into the body and also object to some of the ingredients in the vaccines, therefore, rejecting vaccines for children altogether.
Read More: Picking Your Way To A Better Immune System
Safety Concerns: Let’s just call a spade a spade. According to the CDC, vaccines do not cause Autism. There has been a lot of concern in the past that vaccines for children will cause them to have autism and endanger their health and that is simply not true. The other safety concern is around the ingredients used to develop children’s vaccines. Thimerosal, which is a mercury-based preservative used to prevent contamination of multidose vaccine vials. Between 1999 – 2001, Thimerosal was removed or reduced to tiny trace amounts in vaccines for children except for some flu vaccines. But even then, there are Thimerosal-free flu vaccine alternatives.
Lack of Information: It is hard to make any decision without knowing the proper information, let alone a decision that can affect our child’s health. The average parent isn’t equipped with an encyclopedia of information on each disease that exists or how it could affect them or their child. It is important that a parent feel comfortable with each vaccine, and the safety around administering them in the suggested schedule as outlined by the Center For Disease Control And Prevention. It should be the responsibility of the parent to keep an open mind to understand the importance around vaccinations and the pediatrician’s responsibility to educate on the safety and effectivess around vaccines for children.
Insurance Coverage: Vaccine rates are lower in some rural areas and among Medicaid-insured or uninsured children. A 2017 study showed that a proportion of these children had no vaccinations even by the time they were two years old. In addition to insurance challenges, there could be other factors such as location, transportation, and lack of knowledge of the Vaccines For Children program. This is a federally funded program designed to provide vaccines for children whose families cannot pay. This program helps to support those children who might not otherwise be vaccinated.
Coronavirus Vaccine Rates
As the race for a Coronavirus vaccine continues, there might be some skepticism around who will actually get vaccinated, and whether or not it really safe for all due to the selected population who is participating in the clinical trials. While testing continues, experts have acknowledged that children might be the last to be vaccinated because as of now they have been excluded from clinical trials. Developing a vaccine for adults and children still require children to also be a part of the testing process. We cannot just assume that children are smaller versions of adults and that what works for adults will work for children too.
So how long will additional testing take and will Americans be confident in the effectiveness once testing has been approved? It is reported that the testing for the COVID-19 vaccine in children could take months or even years. According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 27% of American adults said they were not inclined to get a vaccine even if it was free of charge. So add in the possible children of the 27% of adults and the number will continue to rise. There is no exact timeline on when this vaccine will be safe and ready for use, but the estimated timeframe continues to be early 2021.
Hesitancy and skepticism around vaccines have been around for quite some time with strong opinions on both sides of the aisle. As deadly diseases continue to grow throughout our world it is important to understand how we can protect our children from these viruses and keep them safe. Whether you agree or disagree that vaccines for children are necessary, it is hard not to be concerned with the safety measures taken to develop the Coronavirus vaccine. As Americans start to head back to school in the fall and resume some sort of normalcy, it will be very interesting to see what 2021 brings for a potential new vaccine to add to the list for children going forward.
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Check out this article on Coronavirus Update: What You Need To Know.
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