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Immunization Pros and Cons List

Immunization comes with many benefits. It also comes with some risks that must be acknowledged. For many, the benefits of preventing diseases outweigh the risks that a vaccine might cause at the individual level.

Here are the key immunization pros and cons to think about and discuss.

List of the Pros of Immunization

1. It dramatically reduces the rate of disease.
Since vaccinations began, numerous diseases have seen dramatic drops in the number of cases that are medically evaluated each year. Most common childhood vaccinations, including polio, smallpox, and measles, have reduction rates above 99%. Even mumps and whooping cough have reduction rates close to 90%.

2. It protects other people too.
Vaccinations help to prevent individual disease problems. They also help to protect other people as well. When one person is immunized against a disease, they do not spread it to others. This helps to prevent those who may not be able to receive a vaccination, because they are too young or are allergic to the ingredients of the vaccine.

3. It is an affordable intervention.
In Colorado, treating just 500 children for a disease that had an available vaccine costs about $29 million per year. For the United States as a whole, spending $1 on a vaccine saves almost $20 in future medical costs. Many health insurance plans will cover the cost of the vaccination completely. Even if it’s not covered, most will only pay a small co-pay to receive their needed immunization.

4. It offers an insurance program.
About 2 people in every 1 million who are immunized may experience a serious problem from a vaccine that they received. Should this occur in the United States, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program may offer financial help to those affected. A petition is required to access this program and the vaccine must be covered by the program to qualify.

5. It does not cause autism.
There is no independently verifiable research to support the claims of outlier studies that suggest vaccines and immunization may cause autism.

6. It allows for safer travel experiences.
In North America and Europe, there are certain diseases which are not present that are possible to contract in the rest of the world. A series of travel vaccines make it possible to have protections against many contagious diseases, providing for a safer overall experience. A common set of travel vaccines for immunization include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, yellow fever, typhoid fever, encephalitis, and rabies.

7. It is a process that is fully tested.
In the early days of vaccine production, many people were exposed to the disease they were trying to protect themselves against. For the polio vaccine, more than 2,000 people had permanent injuries or disabilities that occurred from the vaccine. Times have changed since then. Any vaccine must go through up to 15 years of testing before it will be allowed in the general population.

8. It is available almost everywhere.
In the past, it was often necessary to schedule a doctor’s visit to receive a vaccine. Today, vaccines can be distributed at pharmacies, urgent care centers, and other walk-in facilities.

List of the Cons of Immunization

1. It does not prevent disease transmission all the time.
Diseases will attack everyone, no matter what their immunization status may be. That means it is possible for individuals who have received a vaccine to still catch the disease they were immunized against. Successful attack rates are generally lower in the vaccinated population than the unvaccinated population, but the risk of transmission is still present.

2. It can cause painful side effects.
Injections are the most common form of immunization. Not only does the needle stick cause pain, there can also be side effects, like inflammation or infection, at the site of injection. Allergies to a vaccine can develop at any time as well. Headaches, fevers, and muscle or joint pain are also common.

3. It may expose individuals to thimerosal.
Thimerosal is an organic mercury preservative that prevents bacteria growth within a vaccine. It is broken down within the body and eliminated immediately. Although some people do have allergic reactions to it, autism is not triggered by it. Thimerosal was removed from U.S. vaccines in 2001. Influenza vaccines are available without it as well.

These immunization pros and cons suggest that there is a lot of conflicting information available to parents and individuals today regarding this process. We must remember how difficult life was for families just a few generations ago when vaccines were not readily available. Although there are always risks with any medical procedure, the risks associated with receiving a vaccine are much smaller than the risks of contracting the actual disease.