Today in society, when it comes to the word vaccines, many people have started to back away from either getting vaccines themselves or for their children. In this issues brief, the topic of vaccines along with many outside studies and facts will be looked at in order to help policy makers come to an understanding of the essential benefits of having everyone get vaccinated. However, because the topic of vaccines is too broad for one issue brief to cover, this issues brief will focus on the influenza vaccine.
The history of vaccines goes all the way back to Edward Jenner and the smallpox vaccination. Jenner was a doctor who lived in Berkeley, England. In that time period, smallpox was a deadly disease that many fell victim to. However, Jenner noticed that the milkmaids who were infected with the cowpox disease did not show any symptoms of getting smallpox. Thus, in 1796, he performed an experiment by taking pus from a cowpox lesion and infecting a healthy patient. Six weeks later, when Jenner infected the boy with the smallpox virus, he found that the boy also showed no signs or symptoms. Thus came the invention of the vaccination.
When it comes to analyzing what exactly caused the transition against vaccinations, there isn’t a specific incident. Instead, the problem is both the effectiveness of vaccinations against the deadlier diseases that resulted in such diseases like polio or smallpox to be completely or almost eradicated and the government’s inability to effectively communicate the dangers of not getting vaccines with the public. And as a result, those who do not get the vaccines will be negatively affected in the long-term. Without vaccines, viruses can spread and, from looking back in history, can cause not only epidemics but also pandemics as well.
Many people – mainly health professionals – are for getting vaccines. According to them, vaccines can decrease one’s chances from getting infected with a transmittable disease. On the opposite side is mainly the public. The arguments and worries they hold are that vaccines aren’t that effective, cost too much, and can cause serious side effects. And a small portion claim that getting vaccines is against their religious beliefs.
In face of all the fears and worries, many studies from a variety of public departments and independent scientists have been undertaken in an attempt to understand the potential harm and benefits of vaccines. For the influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a paper on the impacts of influenza, commonly known as the flu. According to them, “between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people” (CDC). In fact, there was “56979) deaths from Influenza and Pneumonia in 2013, placing it in 8th place in the leading causes of death, just following diabetes (CDC).
There is a myriad of resources available for those who would like to obtain more specific information. Some helpful groups are Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (vaccines and immunizations website), NCSL, American Academy of Pediatrics, Institute for Vaccine Safety by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of public Health to name a few. If you are interesting in looking into the financial impacts of vaccines, the www.resource-allocation.com website provides many articles and studies done in relation to cost effectiveness and resource allocations.
There are many factors involving vaccinations. However, there are two options to address this issue.
Pass a law requiring everyone to get vaccinated for influenza every year and back it up with lowering the cost.
In order to obtain a goal, direct action is the best solution. By passing a law, this can effectively decrease the chances of people getting infected from something a vaccine can prevent. In addition, by lowering the cost of each vaccine, there won’t be as much pressure for those with lower-income. In addition, by making the cost lower, the law can be met with less resistance.
However, problems with this option range from financial to political. While it would really help the patients to receive a cheaper vaccination, especially for those without insurance, the question then becomes who will pay for the rest. Because the influenza vaccination is mainly grown in eggs, the process is very long and costly. Thus, there needs to be a decision on who will pay for the costs: insurance, the government, or the patients themselves.
Another problem is with the law itself. There may be people who will argue that it is unfair to enforce everyone to get the vaccination. This would essentially go against their human rights. Finding a solution to this problem can be a problem.
Therefore, perhaps a better way to approach this problem would be to start with a law that looks over a smaller group of people: students. It is both reasonable to ask that students be vaccinated prior to going to school. It would therefore ensure that the child gets vaccinated and that there will be no spread of the flu between people who are in close proximity for a long period of time.
Give the public more access to information about influenza and aim to broaden the knowledge. More informed citizens means a general better decision that is made.
This is more of a passive approach to the problem and therefore will have less opposition. However, it would be hard to say whether the option will work. However, assuming that the idea that education/knowledge of a subject will allow a person to make a better, more informed decision, by providing ample evidence to those who may be worried or unsure of whether they would like to get the vaccination. Previously, the resources available to the public are limited. It is only during the flu season that one starts to see brochures kindly encouraging people to go to the nearest clinic to get their vaccination along with a brief introduction to what the flu virus is. However, unless a person is actively scouring the government department websites looking for information, information is scarce. Thus, it is important to have the vaccination information available at all times. This can include having detailed information on a paper that doctors are required to give to their patients each time they have an appointment. Posters can also be posted in public buildings that focus on a single graph of the potential impact of vaccines – thus making the information both available, easily understandable, and eye-catching. In addition, reformation of the school education can help inform children of the impact of vaccines and at the same time encouraging parents to reconsider their views can help the next generation to be more aware.
The implementation of either option will be a long process. Policymakers will have to take a stand and try to open up the information to the public. Ultimately, it will be considered a success when everyone is getting vaccinated and there are no more deaths related to influenza because of a missed vaccination.
Ultimately, policymakers need to approve this approach and in turn tell the public. There needs to be a close teamwork with health professional, scientists, policymakers, and businessmen to put together a solid plan of action towards the policy of vaccinations. After all, everyone is entitled to the benefits.