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Vaccination for Children

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Ever since the smallpox vaccine was invented, there have been issues regarding the effectiveness, morality and safety of vaccines. It has been argued recently whether laws should be set to make vaccination obligatory for children (Esposito, Principi & Cornaglia, 2014). The important stakeholders in this issue include nurses, parents, children, healthcare specialists, and teachers. All of the stakeholders should have a say in the issue of vaccination. Parents argue that the decision on whether their children should be vaccinated or not should lie with them. On the other hand, healthcare professionals and nurses argue that the right to make the decision on vaccination of children should not be granted to parents since incomplete vaccinations can have negative implications for the young. By skipping immunizations, children are put at risk of contracting fatal illnesses. Every parent feels concerned about the health of their children. However, this concern can take various forms. While some believe that the invention of vaccines was a contribution to protecting the health of children, others do not believe the use of vaccines is beneficial. This is a risk only some parents are willing to take, which creates a platform for debate. Addressing the concerns regarding vaccine use, its pharmacological importance, its effect on improving the quality of life and health outcomes as well as the factors that restrict parents from accessing vaccines might bring about the answers to many of the long-debated questions.

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Immunization has been confirmed both in research and clinical practice as one of the best interventions to avert diseases. As Whitney, Zhou, Singleton, Schuchat, and CDC (2014) outline, the rationale behind immunization is to provoke a state whereby an initial contact with the infection elicits a quick and successful immune response. In case the infection or one of a similar nature occurs, memory cells can detect how to handle it. This then leads to the prevention of any infection occurring. A vital part of many immunization programs is the production of herd immunity which is an increase of the overall immunity status in the region to a point where diseases cannot be transmitted due to the lack of susceptible hosts (Quadri-Sherriff et al., 2012). Children are immunized with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) to protect them against tuberculosis. Oral polio is also administered in children so that their bodies can produce antibodies against the poliovirus. Other immunizable diseases that affect children include Tetanus, Pneumonia, Hepatitis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, and the influenza virus. All these diseases can be prevented by the use of the pentavalent vaccine.

Additionally, the measles vaccine is administered to protect children against the measles virus. The vaccines work by mimicking infections so the body reacts by producing antibodies that result in memory cells that fight the infection whenever it tries to infect someone. As seen above, vaccines protect children from many preventable diseases. The parental choice not to vaccinate involves an increase in the risk of children contracting preventable illnesses. This not only puts the lives of children at risk but threatens the community at large (Quadri-Sherriff et al., 2012). Thus, parents should ensure that their children are vaccinated and immunized as required.

All medications have negative side effects. However, the benefits of some medications far outweigh the negative effects. Vaccines are in this group. When considering whether to vaccinate a child, it is to focus on the potential benefits of the vaccine rather than the negative effects. In addition, a better approach would require trying to balance what the child gains in comparison to how they will be affected in case that side effects occur. Most side effects that accompany vaccine use are mild and short-lived. For instance, it is quite common for a child to have swelling or redness at the injection site (Whitney et al., 2014). Young babies might be irritable, experience an increase in temperature, or be generally unwell for a few days. Furthermore, some rare side effects, such as allergic reactions, itching, and rashes, are possible after vaccination. In much worse scenarios, vaccines can cause an anaphylactic reaction (Whitney et al., 2014). This state can result in breathing difficulties and sometimes cause the individual to collapse. However, healthcare providers are trained to combat the above-mentioned side-effects.

Vaccination is different from giving a child medication to help them recover from an illness. The benefits of vaccines are invisible. They prevent children from falling ill with serious diseases, including meningitis and contract measles, which can lead them to be committed to intensive care units (Whitney et al., 2014). It may be tempting to many parents to say no to vaccination and let nature decide, but deciding against vaccinating children puts them at great risk of contracting potentially fatal diseases. Vaccines are not 100% effective for every child, but they are the best defense mechanisms that can minimize the risks of children contracting various preventable fatal diseases.

The utilization of vaccines to prevent diseases improves overall health outcomes and quality of life. Preventing the occurrence of diseases that can interfere with the health of children is a form of enhancing the quality of life. Gaudino and Robison (2012) state that immunization enhances children's safety, which is achieved through eliminating the risk of becoming disabled or experiencing death. The issue of vaccination greatly affects communities and organizations. Herd immunity can only be achieved through adherence to immunizations by all community members. This means that a disease can be eradicated from a certain community due to the lack of vulnerable hosts (Quadri-Sherriff et al., 2012). In case of an outbreak of a similar disease in the future, the community will remain unaffected due to the immunity gained through adherence to vaccination.

A community can likewise experience many disease outbreaks such as measles and whooping cough due to non-adherence to vaccination schedules and regulations. Gaudino and Robison (2012) state that the parents who skip or delay the immunization of their children have contributed to the outbreak of measles in the United States. This brings out the fact that states that allow parents to have immunization exemption rights experience high incidences of disease outbreaks. It is necessary for states to create mandatory vaccination rules since it not only leads to individual benefits but also helps the community through the consolidation of herd immunity.

There exist various inequities on the community level that reduce people's access to immunization services. Ideally, all health centers should be equipped with the necessary resources that can be used in the immunization processes (Esposito et al., 2014). Since vaccination is vital for the well-being of children and the society at large, local clinics and health centers are the ones that need to be outfitted with the necessary vaccines, staff, and equipment for the accomplishment of this task. Local health centers should be at the center of such efforts since they are easily accessible for many parents. However, such challenges as inadequate vaccines have affected the immunization process among community members.

The government and community members are responsible for the level of access to immunization services. The government can avail all the necessary equipment and staff to various health centers, but the individual believes among mothers that vaccination has minimal benefits can reduce the number of people utilizing the services. Additionally, community members might be willing to access the aforementioned health services, but due to the inadequacy of staff or vaccines the level of utilization of the service is reduced. Thus, the government and the community should partner to ensure services are availed and utilized for effective child health maintenance (Esposito et al., 2014). Moreover, there exist various beliefs among health workers that reduce the level of utilization of immunization services. For instance, some healthcare providers believe that it is wrong to vaccinate a sick child even when the vaccine is not contraindicated. This is mostly due to the fear that if the child's symptoms get worse, the vaccine will be blamed (Esposito et al., 2014). Thus, most healthcare providers avoid vaccinating sick children. This inhibits the access and the utilization of immunization services.

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In conclusion, vaccinations should be utilized to protect children from various fatal illnesses. Diseases such as tetanus, whooping cough, polio, and even tuberculosis can be prevented through vaccination. Vaccines work differently from medications. While medications are given to children or adults to cure illnesses, vaccines are administered to prevent the occurrence of illnesses. Vaccines stimulate the body to produce antibodies that can protect the person in case an illness attacks. Despite being aware of the benefits vaccination can bring to children, some parents still choose not to use this service for their children. This act puts most children and the community at large at risk. Immunizing children instigates positive health outcomes within the community. With vaccination, herd immunity can be achieved and the risk of the disease spreading is minimized due to the lack of viable hosts. Thus, the movement against vaccination instigated by some parents puts society at risk of various illnesses. Therefore, it is necessary for mothers to be educated on the importance of vaccination and laws set to mandate the utilization of such services.

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