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Safety of Childhood Vaccines

Haylie S. Garrity

Arizona State University



This paper argues the reasons why parents should vaccinate their children. The first body

paragraph discusses the effectiveness of specific vaccines given to children and the decline in

cases related to those diseases and mortality rates. It also proves that chemicals in vaccines are

safe because the amounts used are under the regulated dosage limit. The second paragraph

describes the counterargument. It explains that anti-vax parents make decisions based on

experience and media rather than the information given by healthcare providers. An example of a

vaccine- related injury case was presented to show the reactions of parents when they hear or see

issues like this in the media. The third paragraph refutes the counter argument stating that

anti-vax parents do not educate themselves enough on vaccines and gives evidence of how rare it

is for children to acquire a vaccine- related injury. Vaccines are excessively tested to prove their

safety and there is little to no evidence suggesting that they cause more harm than they prevent.

Keywords:​ Vaccines, safety, parents, children, injury, healthcare, effective


Vaccines are said to be the number one most effective way to prevent disease. When a

vaccine is given, a very small dosage of the disease and other chemicals are injected in order for

the body’s immune system to respond to it, and know how to get rid of the disease if it is ever

encountered again in the future. Some parents believe that vaccines are dangerous and cause

injury, while others argue the opposite. It is important for parents to vaccinate their children

because it eliminates the risk of serious diseases and illnesses, it saves the lives of children and

future generations, and vaccines are proven to be safe in the amounts used.

Parents should vaccinate their children because they prevent disease, lead to a healthier

life, and are safe. A study done in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the seasonal influenza

vaccine was discussed in the article, “Interim Estimates of 2018–19 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine

Effectiveness — United States, February 2019.” The results showed that there was a decrease of

40%–60% in influenza cases across all ages and that approximately 80% of reported pediatric

influenza-associated deaths have occurred in children who were not vaccinated (Doyle JD,

Chung JR, Kim SS, et al., 2019). This study is proof that vaccines eliminate disease and that

there are many more deaths from influenza when children are not vaccinated for it. The data

shown provides evidence of this specific vaccine and the benefits it has on the population. In

addition, p​neumonia is the second most frequent killer of children under five years old

worldwide. ​According to the article, “Impact of the 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine

on Clinical and Hypoxemic Childhood Pneumonia over Three Years in Central Malawi: An

Observational Study,” a study was done that looked at children under five to evaluate the rates of

pneumonia before and after the vaccines were given. As a result, the rates of

pneumonia-associated mortality for hospitalized cases declined by 41% after the vaccine was

given (McCollum ED, Nambiar B, Deula R, Zadutsa B, Bondo A, et al., 2017). The statistics in

this study also prove that vaccines prevent illness and that the mortality rates after the vaccine

decline. Vaccines increase a person’s lifespan and successfully eliminate the risk of future

critical diseases. Finally, according to the article, “​Aluminum in vaccines: Does it Create a

Safety Problem?” a study was tested to see whether or not Aluminum in vaccines was linked to

neurotoxicity, a form of toxicity in which a biological, chemical, or physical agent produces an

adverse effect on the structure or function of the central and/or peripheral nervous system. As a

result, it was determined that current data did not support the elimination of Aluminum from

vaccines because the amounts used in vaccines (about ​800 µg per dose)​ was less than the US

regulated limit (850-1250​µg)​ (Principi, N., & Esposito, S., 2018). Chemicals in vaccines were

proven to be safe and the amounts used in each dose is restricted based on the US minimum

limit. It is mandatory that these regulations are in place to insure that vaccines are safe for human

use. Numerous amounts of study- related evidence proves the safety and efficiency of


Although vaccines are proven to be safe, some parents still argue that they are dangerous

and cause more illness than they prevent. ​For example, the article, “An Experimental

Investigation into the Transmission of Antivax Attitudes Using a Fictional Health Controversy,”

discusses an experiment done in order to understand which aspects of vaccination-related

information are well transmitted and how it affects the decisions on vaccinations. The result was

that the experience-based view held by the parent was better transmitted than the medical-based

view held by the doctor (Jiménez, Á V., Stubbersfield, J. M., & Tehrani, J. J., 2018). Parents

make decisions against vaccines based on experience rather than medical recommendation.

When a parent has experienced or knows of someone who has experienced a vaccine related

injury, they are less likely to vaccinate their children, even if a healthcare provider suggests it.

Additionally, in the article, “Parental Attitudes and Perceptions Associated with Childhood

Vaccine Exemptions in High-exemption Schools,” a study was done to determine how many

people received highschool exemptions for vaccines. Respondents who indicated that they

sought care from a Naturopath or a Doctor of Osteopathy were statistically significantly more

likely to be exemptors (23.6%) than non-exemptors (7.8%). It states that these anti-vax parents

believed ​it was better for their child to develop immunity through illness rather than vaccination

(​Pottinger, Jacobs, Haenchen, Ernst, 2018). Many parents refuse to vaccinate their children

because of religious, cultural, or moral reasons. They believe that taking a naturopathic route is

more beneficial than seeking allopathic healthcare. Furthermore, a study done to discuss if the

HPV vaccine is dangerous or not was explored in the article, “Dangerous Agent or Saviour?

HPV Vaccine Representations on Online Discussion Forums in Romania.” It was stated that

parents would not accept the vaccination and considered the HPV vaccine to be more dangerous

than the disease itself. An example was given stating that there was a video of a 14 year old girl

that had suddenly become very ill after receiving the vaccine and died hours later (​Penţa, M. A.,

& Băban, A., 2014​). Some parents will refuse to vaccinate their children because they argue that

they cause more injury than they prevent. When parents see videos and media showing vaccine-

related injuries, they are less inclined to trust them, therefore deciding not to put their child at

risk. Lastly, the article, “The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Striking a Balance

Between Individual Rights and Community Benefit,” states that the 21st Century Cures Act

requires that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) cover vaccines recommended

for pregnant women, stating that a vaccinated pregnant woman and her unborn child or children

both can file a claim with the VICP. In 2009 and 2010, autism was considered a possible

complication of vaccines by the US Court of Federal Claims (​Meissner, H. C.​, 2019). One of the

most discussed controversies over vaccine safety is its correlation with autism. Parents do not

trust vaccines due to fear of their child developing autism, and believe that if vaccines were truly

safe, the VICP would not be needed. There are many different reasons as to why parents choose

not to have their child vaccinated such as fear of injury or even just morals.

Although it is agreeable that all children may have different reactions to vaccines, it is

very rare for a vaccine injury to occur, and many anti-vaccine parents do not fully educate

themselves on the vaccines suggested for their child. For example, the article, “​Parent

Perspectives on Childhood Vaccination: How to Deal With Vaccine Hesitancy and Refusal?”

discusses a study done on why parents choose not to vaccinate their children. ​Only 37.1% of the

parents reported to seek information about vaccination from the pediatrician, and 12% of them

stated that their decision was based on the media (​Bianco, A., Mascaro, V., Zucco, R., & Pavia,

M., 2019). Parents have the right to decide not to vaccinate their children, but a majority of them

are not educated enough to make an informed decision. If parents are not reading the information

given on vaccines and are relying on the media to make these decisions, it is impossible to know

if a vaccine is actually unsafe. In addition, a​ study done in the article, “Demonstration of

Background Rates of Three Conditions of Interest for Vaccine Safety Surveillance,” discusses

health outcomes related to vaccines. It states that the average annualized vaccine incidences of

adolescents aged 11–17 years old was 0.8 per 100,000 (​Wormsbecker AE, Johnson C, Bourns L,

Harris T, Crowcroft NS, Deeks SL, 2019​). Many parents insist that vaccines cause more injury

than they prevent, but statistics show otherwise. The percent of vaccine- related injuries

compared to the percent of lives saved from vaccines is statistical data that can not be argued.

Finally, the article, “Understanding The Host –Pathogen Interaction Saves Lives: Lessons from

Vaccines and Vaccination,” states that clinical trials for vaccines are are tested tens of thousands

of times and that vaccines are licensed include post- license monitoring. (​Garon, J. R., &

Orenstein, W. A., 2015​). The anti-vax population argues continuously that vaccines are unsafe,

but it has been proven many times that the opposite is true. Vaccines are tested countless times

and must be approved and licensed through the FDA. Even after a vaccine is licensed, it

continues to go through post-monitoring to insure its safety. Parents may argue against vaccines

for multiple reasons, but data disproves almost all of these arguments.

It is ultimately a personal preference of whether or not a person wants to vaccinate their

child. Although many parents think that vaccines are unsafe and that naturopathic remedies are

better, vaccines have been proven to be effective and safe in multiple studies. Vaccines do not

contain a big enough amount of chemicals to cause harm, statistics show that they are effective,

and they save millions of lives each day. Anti-vax parents should research and expand their

knowledge on vaccines to make sure they are making the right decision for their child.


Bianco, A., Mascaro, V., Zucco, R., & Pavia, M. (2019). Parent perspectives on childhood

vaccination: How to deal with vaccine hesitancy and refusal? ​Vaccine,37(​ 7), 984-990.


Doyle JD, Chung JR, Kim SS, et al. (2019, February) Interim Estimates of 2018–19 Seasonal

Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — United States. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep

2019;68:135–139. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6806a2

Garon, J. R., & Orenstein, W. A. (2015, May 16). Understanding the host–pathogen interaction

saves lives: Lessons from vaccines and vaccinations.


Jiménez, Á V., Stubbersfield, J. M., & Tehrani, J. J. (2018). An experimental investigation into

the transmission of antivax attitudes using a fictional health controversy. ​Social Science &

Medicine,215​, 23-27. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.08.032

McCollum ED, Nambiar B, Deula R, Zadutsa B, Bondo A, et al. (2017) Impact of the 13-Valent

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine on Clinical and Hypoxemic Childhood Pneumonia

over Three Years in Central Malawi: An Observational Study. PLOS ONE 12(1):

e0168209. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168209

Meissner, H. C. (2019, January 29). The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Retrieved from doi:10.1001/jama.2018.20421

Penţa, M. A., & Băban, A. (2014, September 21). Dangerous Agent or Saviour? HPV Vaccine

Representations on Online Discussion Forums in Romania.


Pottinger HL, Jacobs ET, Haenchen SD, Ernst KC (2018) Parental attitudes and perceptions

associated with childhood vaccine exemptions in high-exemption schools. PLoS ONE

13(6): e0198655. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. Pone.0198655

Principi, N., & Esposito, S. (2018). Aluminum in vaccines: Does it create a safety problem?


Wormsbecker AE, Johnson C, Bourns L, Harris T, Crowcroft NS, Deeks SL (2019)

Demonstration of background rates of three conditions of interest for vaccine safety

surveillance. PLoS ONE 14(1): e0210833. https:// doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0210833