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Are vaccinations really a safe method of disease prevention?

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  • Essay length: 846 words
  • Submitted: 05/02/2004
University Degree Problem Based Learning cases

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Are vaccinations really a safe method of disease prevention?

Vaccination is a method of disease prevention. Vaccines contain an inactive or weakened form of the bacteria or virus causing the disease which is trying to be prevented. A response is triggered by our body's immune system but the disease is not caused. The production of antibodies is stimulated to help eliminate the bacteria or virus from the body.

Edward Jenner was responsible for disease prevention by vaccination in 1796. He noticed how dairymaids who caught cowpox, a minor disease, never caught smallpox, a fatal disease. He infected a young boy with cowpox and he suffered from it for a short while. Later, he exposed the same boy to smallpox and the boy did not catch it. Cowpox was enough like smallpox for the body to become immune to smallpox. This was the first recorded vaccination (1).

Today, humans around the world are vaccinated against many different diseases, and most people believe them to be safe and effective. But are they? The number of cases of several different fatal diseases has declined and many diseases have been eradicated in the past years, but is it the vaccine that should be awarded for this or is it that living standards have improved?

Microbiologists would probably attribute the decline of reported cases of disease to the increase in mass vaccination. They would claim that it is safer to vaccinate and suffer the lesser risks associated, than to not vaccinate at all. However some people are against immunization and would claim that vaccination is not worth it. The death rate linked to infectious diseases had supposedly already begun to decline a significant amount before the introduction of vaccines. "Injecting a known deadly pathogen in to a healthy host, is like putting a gun to one's head and pulling the trigger, hoping it's not loaded" (2).

As well as there was for smallpox, there is also a vaccine for polio. In 1992 there was a study that concluded with the fact that all of the cases of polio since 1980 in the United States, were indeed caused by the polio vaccine itself. These vaccine associated cases of polio were said to be caused by the orally administered version of polio vaccine. Since it was a live virus, it mutated in cases to actually cause

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