Why the Benefits of Vaccination Outweigh Its Risks

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Whythe Benefits of Vaccination Outweigh Its Risks

Theuse of vaccines to protect people from diseases is one of the mostcontroversial issues in the modern world. The objective way ofdetermining whether vaccines should continue being administered is toweigh between their benefits and risks. Vaccination involves the useof antigenic material to stimulate the recipient’s immune systemand help it establish an adaptive protection from specific pathogens(WHO 1). Currently, vaccination is considered as the most effectiveway of preventing diseases (Groom 2). In this paper, the benefits andrisks of vaccination will be discussed. A conclusion will be made tosupport an idea that vaccines have more benefits than the risks.

Benefitsof Vaccination

Eliminationof Diseases and Epidemics

Theadministration of vaccines has played a key role in the eliminationof disease that used to kill millions of people every year. Examplesof diseases that have been eliminated or reduced include the measles,smallpox, and polio. Studies have shown that a total of 175,885,48,164, and 16,316 cases of measles, smallpox, and polio,respectively, were reported in the U.S. in the 20thcentury (Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition 1). However,the same country reported zero cases since the beginning of the 21stcentury due to effective administration of vaccines in the late 20thcentury.

Protectionof Loved Ones from Diseases

Theuse of vaccines reduces the spread of diseases in families and thecommunity. Research has shown that the vaccination of the strongmembers of the family and community can reduce the risk of those whoare either too young or weak to be immunized from catchingcommunicable diseases. Some of the groups that cannot be immunizedinclude babies who are too young, the elderly people, and pregnantwomen (Rubio 72). The vaccination of the rest of the family membersminimizes the risk of the spread of diseases to the vulnerablegroups. This strategy is referred to as the herd immunity and itrequires a given percentage of the family members to be vaccinated inorder to reduce the risk of diseases. For example, the herd immunitythreshold for measles is about 95 %, while polio has a limit of 80 %- 85 % (Willligham 1). The strong people protect their friends andrelatives who are too weak to be immunized when they agree to receivethe immunity.

CostEffectiveness of Vaccination

Theability of the vaccination to help countries to avoid the high costof treating different diseases is another key benefit associated withimmunization. This benefit is based on an argument that it is cheaperto prevent the occurrence of a disease than to cure it. For example,studies have shown that the cost of vaccinating people against HPV isless than the gross domestic product per head by 87 % in over 179countries (Brisson 406). The vaccination helps these countries toavoid the cost of treating killer diseases (such as the cervicalcancer) that are too expensive to cure and occur when people are notimmunized (Blakely 2645). For an instant, research has revealed thatthe state of Colorado spends about $ 29.2 million each year in thetreatment of diseases that are vaccine-preventable (CCIC 1). Thisconfirms that states and countries can save a lot of money byencouraging people to go for vaccination, instead of waiting to treatpreventable diseases when they occur.

Propervaccination goes a long way in protecting people from disabilities.It has been proven that certain diseases (such as polio) causedisabilities to people who are not vaccinated. It is estimated thatbetween 12 and 20 million people in the modern world live with poliosequelae (Blakely 2645). The same study indicated that about 25-40 %of the survivors of polio suffer from disabling symptoms that limittheir ability to function normally. In some cases, the affectedpeople are not able to walk or work. These forms of disability affecttheir entire lives. They limit their chances of succeeding inpersonal as well as professional life. Therefore, effectivevaccination programs can reduce the risk of suffering from prolongedforms of disability and the loss of productivity. Vaccination givespeople the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life by preventingdisabling illnesses.

Protectionof the Future Generation

Aneffective administration of vaccines at present protects the futuregenerations by eliminating diseases that would have subjected them tothe risk of serious outbreaks. In addition, the risk of passingcommunicable diseases to offspring and the future generation isminimized through immunization (CCIC 1). For example, smallpox was aserious threat to human life in the 20thcentury, but children do not require immunization against it in themodern world since it has been eliminated completely. Based on thisinformation, it can be argued that the modern world was protectedfrom smallpox by the previous generations that agreed to takevaccines against the disease. Similarly, the present generation canprotect the posterity by agreeing to be vaccinated againstcommunicable diseases. Some of the present diseases could beeliminated completely from the world.

Risksof Vaccination


Vaccines,similar to other pharmaceutical products, have some side effects thatmay be mild or severe. In most cases, patients suffer from minor sideeffects (such as swelling at the point of injection), but they goaware with time (CDC 1). Some people develop serious allergicreactions that reduce their comfort and the health. The opponents ofthe idea of vaccination use this information to argue thatimmunization causes unnecessary side effects that reduce the qualityof life.

Developmentof Medical Complications

Apartfrom the aforementioned minor side effects, vaccines can causeserious medical complications that endanger the lives of recipients.The National Academy of Science identified that some of the keycomplications that people may suffer from include febrile seizures,thrombocytopenia, anaphylaxis, brain inflammation, vaccine straininfection, Guillain Barre Syndrome, and deltoid bursitis (NVIC 1). Insome cases, vaccination can lead to death. These complications varydepending on the type of disease that an individual has beenimmunized against. However, the number of people who suffer fromcomplications and the side effects represents an insignificantpercentage of the population of those who are immunized.


Althoughthere are groups that oppose the use of vaccines to prevent diseases,it is evident that their benefits outweigh the risks. Theeffectiveness of vaccines has been proven in the past, following acomplete elimination of certain diseases, such as smallpox. Inaddition, they prevent the spread of communicable diseases infamilies and communities, thus reducing the risk of occurrence ofoutbreaks. Although vaccines are associated with several side effects(such as allergy and medical complications), the total number ofadverse events that are reported annually is insignificant.


ColoradoChildren’s Immunization Coalition. Fact or fiction. ColoradoChildren’s Immunization Coalition.2016. Web. 11 November 2016.

Blakely,T., Kvizhinadze, G., Karvonen, T., Pearson, L., Smith, M. and Wilson,N. “Cost-effectiveness and equity impacts of three HPV vaccinationprograms for school-aged girls in New Zealand”. Vaccine32 (2014): 2645-2656. Print.

Brisson,M., Portnoy, A. and Hutubessy, R. “Cost-effectiveness of femalehuman papillomavirus vaccination in 179 countries: A PRIME modelingstudy”. LancetGlobal Health2 (2014): 406-414. Print.

Centerfor Disease Control and Prevention. For parents: Vaccines for yourchildren. CDC.2016. Web. 11 November 2016.

Groom,H. “Immunization information systems to increase vaccination rates:A community guide systematic review”. Journalof Public Health Management and Practices1 (2014): 1-22. Print.

NationalVaccine Information Center. Vaccination? Know the risks and failures.NVC.2016. Web. 11 November 2016.

Rubio,P. “The vaccination coverage required to establish herd immunityagainst influenza viruses. PreventionMedicine55.1 (2012): 72-77. Print.

TheU.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Five important reasonsto vaccinate your child. HSS.2016. Web. 11 November 2016.

Willligham,E. and Helft, L. What is herd immunity? NOVA.9 May. 2014. Web. 11 November 2016.

WorldHealth Organization. Vaccines. WHO.2016. Web. 11 November 2016.