General Question

ilvorangeiceblocks's avatar

Are you for or against letting your children be immunised against diseases?

Asked by ilvorangeiceblocks (865points) June 7th, 2011

Do you think it is wise to have your children vaccinated against diseases such as polio or meningitis? Do you think that it is safe for children who’s immune systems are not as strong as adults’ immune systems to be immunised? Why is this? Is it because there are many cases of the vaccination not working properly? Or is it because the vaccine may be in its first few years and you do not trust its effectiveness yet?

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60 Answers

Nullo's avatar

Immunization is one of the reasons why so many people these days are surviving childhood. That’s got to be worth something.

JLeslie's avatar

For sure I would vaccinate my child against polio. A horrific disease that all too often leads to death or leaving the person crippled. There are some vaccines one could take or leave, playing the odds that if they catch it, it won’t likely be that bad. But, polio, measles, rubella, mumps, whooping cough, for sure those are really bad, and very contagious and I would vaccinate for my child and the health of others. I am still trying to figure out why Hep B is so important to vaccinate infants. Hep A depending where I live. I am on the fence about Chicken Pox and HPV, as they are on the market longer I feel better about them. In America we do not vaccinate for TB.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I am for vaccinating children. Prior to 1900 the average life expectancy of a person living in plains states was 18 years at birth. If you lived past 5 your life expectancy jumped to 50.

Now thanks primarily to immunization and vaccination that has risen to 70+

TexasDude's avatar

I agree with all of the posters above me.


I’m definitely for it. Being children, they are vulnerable to many diseases that like to prey on the young. Personally, I wouldn’t allow my small children to mingle with other kids unless they were immunized first.

Mamradpivo's avatar

My children will be vaccinated. End of story. And I won’t let them play with kids whose parents won’t vaccinate theirs. That could affect their life, as well as mine.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mamradpivo If your kids are vaccinated, why are youworried about them playing with kids who aren’t vaccinated?

Mamradpivo's avatar

@JLeslie Why tempt fate?
Besides: socially isolating the knuckle-draggers who don’t believe in protecting society from diseases like smallpox, polio, TB, etc is the only way to get them to change their ways. This kind of crap doesn’t happen in other civilized societies.

only sort of snark

keobooks's avatar

I wish parents who refused to vaccinate understood that you don’t just do it for the safety of your kids. You do it for the safety of everyone. Babies aren’t fully protected from whooping cough via vaccinations until they are 6 months old. But if they get it, it can kill them. If you refuse to vaccinate your child, and your child gets whooping cough at age 2 or 3, where it isn’t fatal to them, your child could be contagious before symptoms show. If your child was hanging around a child under 6 months, they could catch it from your child. You’d be responsible for the death or critical illness of that child.

I’ve heard parents who refuse to vaccinate say they just won’t take THEIR child out of their house for a year or so. Great for them, but other people with babies like to leave the house now and then. I took my daughter out even though she was at risk. But if everyone vaccinated their children, there would be a web of protection around everyone.

There are a few moms who I see now and then who just don’t GET how vaccines work and they get on my nerves preaching to new moms about how dangerous vaccines are and how they don’t actually do anything for your own child anyway.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mamradpivo Small pox no longer exists. Well, it does only in a lab under lock and key. America does not vaccinate for TB.

augustlan's avatar

Absolutely in favor of vaccinating.

keobooks's avatar

Smallpox is gone because everyone got vaccinated for it and it died out. I was reading a book t about how this happened. There were vaccination raids where strong armed men would break into buildings and force entire buildings full of people to get vaccinated—sometimes at gunpoint.

I’m not saying we should go back to those tactics, but considering how well mandatory vaccination worked out in the case of smallpox, I WISH there was some less invasive way of getting all people vaccinated. I wish common sense would be enough.

JLeslie's avatar

@keobooks The Gates foundation is trying to rid the world of Polio, and I think there is one other they are really trying to conquer, I would have to look it up. I don’t think they have to force people, most people line up for the vaccines. During the time of small pox people were much less familiar with vaccines, and small pox vaccine had many more side effects than some of the newer vaccines.

JLeslie's avatar

I had only mentioned small pox and TB, because @Mamradpivo worded his sentence as if people will not do those vaccines present day. Unless I misunderstood.

JLeslie's avatar

Also, I am pretty sure there has not been a polio case in the US since the 90’s. The majority of which were caused by the oral polio vaccine. We no longer give the oral vaccine in the US I don’t think. I am not sure if the illness caused by the vaccines were some of the patients receiving the vaccine, or the shedding of the virus to someone caring for the child who had received it.

Recently in the news there were some measles cases reported in the US, not sure what is going on with that.

meiosis's avatar

My children have had all the jabs they should have had, and will continue all the way through the immunisation programme. It’s the right thing by them, and the right thing by society at large.

ilvorangeiceblocks's avatar

So what do all of you think of people who do not let their children be immunised? Do you empathise with those who don’t support child immunisation? Are you skeptical? Do you try to convince them otherwise. If you do try, how do go about convincing them?

Plucky's avatar

If I had children, it would depend on the vaccine. I am for most of the older ones.

meiosis's avatar

@ilvorangeiceblocks I think they’re misguided and endangering their own and other’s children. If they were worried about the MMR jab, and if I knew them well enough and thought they were open to discussion, I would probably email them this link which explains the facts behind the MMR ‘scare’.

shrubbery's avatar

I am for most vaccinations and have probably been given more than most people because when I was in primary school I accidentally had the sets of vaccinations two years in a row when I didn’t need them. Apparently this meant I didn’t need to get a separate tetanus shot because there was enough in the other vaccinations combined to make up for it. Or something.

Anyway yeah I’m for vaccinations of measles etc, I even had the cervical cancer one.

I just don’t see much point in the flu vaccine though.

Nor did I want to risk getting sick from the rabies vaccination when I travelled overseas so I just didn’t touch stray animals!

Stinley's avatar

We had a similar Q a few weeks ago. I wrote a bit about why I have not yet given my two children MMR. I am definitely for vaccination.

meiosis's avatar

@Stinley Have you read the link I posted earlier? As it shows, there’s not only no evidence of a link between MMR and autism, there never was any evidence of a link and the whole scare seems to have been driven by ego and greed.

Stinley's avatar

@meiosis Oh, yes – it’s great – I have posted it on my FB. I need to have another conversation with my husband and agree with him that we will get them the MMR

jasper1890's avatar

If anyone is against please write your reasons!!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

For vaccinations.

Have you ever seen a person in an “iron lung” because of polio?
Before vaccinations one of my friends older brothers was, ii was in the fifties before polio vaccinations.

syz's avatar

Not vaccinating does more than put your own child at risk, it endangers others. It’s sometimes referred to as herd health.

Blackberry's avatar

For, because I live in the 21st century.

bkcunningham's avatar

In the US, does the government still use the smallpox vaccine on children?

SuperMouse's avatar

All of my children have received all of their vaccinations. I do try to take a common sense approach though. I do not let them have
more than two vaccinations per
visit; I make sure to record the
manufacturer, batch number,
and date and dosage of each
vaccine they are given and I
began requesting thimerisol
free vaccines with my first son
and have insisted on them ever since.

@bkcunningham none of my kids receives the smallpox vaccine.

JLeslie's avatar

@syz It is usually referred to as herd Immunity.

meiosis's avatar

@bkcunningham Smallpox has been eradicated (through effective immunisation programmes). There is no need for anyone on the planet to receive the vaccine anymore.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham The only people who receive small pox vaccination still are some people in the military and some people who are health care workers, and I doubt it is a typical manditory vaccine for military troops, but rather people at high risk for germ warfare. No one, any age, anywhere, after 1970 received small pox vaccination except the rare exception I mentioned.

Mariah's avatar

I am for vaccination because all the “evidence” against their safety is just hysterics.

mattbrowne's avatar

I follow the advice of medical experts and I avoid advice by dubious New Age gurus and followers of the anti-vaccine movement.

Being against vaccinations kills many, many people.

Being for vaccinations kills a tiny amount of people.

But there’s no such thing as a risk-free life. But we should opt for the smaller risks.

robmandu's avatar

I think @mattbrowne‘s sums it up best:

Being against vaccinations kills many, many people.
Being for vaccinations kills a tiny amount of people.

My only exception would be that it’s not always a dichotomous argument. There’s a spectrum of choices in between.

The folks I know that are concerned about vaccines are worried that the risk they’re taking with their own child’s health is greater than the risk to the “herd” if they don’t. Think of it this way: would you risk giving your child autism if it meant he wouldn’t be a carrier for measles in your neighborhood? Do you know anyone who ever has actually gotten measles? The cases are so few and far between (but still occurring) that it might as well not exist.

I make that example because there’s still a lot of people worried that MMR vaccines cause autism, even though it’s been categorically proven there is zero causation or even correlation between the two.

Others worry that the chemical makeup of the various vaccines is cause for concern. Or they worry that intentionally exposing their young child with undeveloped immune systems to major (yet attenuated) illnesses is a bad idea. Or that the vaccines themselves are of questionable efficacy.

That very last one (questionable efficacy) is where I fall in. My kids are vaccinated against most things (yes, including MMR) except for hepatitis b, the flu and chicken pox.

Not hep b because, as newborn infants only minutes old – when the vaccine would typically be introduced – they’re not sexually active nor intravenous drug users. Not the flu because the vaccine that’s issued each year usually has little effect against the actual strains that make their way around. Nor have any of us ever contracted the flu; and every year I hear of people who actually get sick from the flu vaccine. Plus the chicken pox vaccine isn’t nearly as effective as actually getting the chicken pox.

My wife and I might be wrong in our stance on the selected vaccines we choose. She has her masters degree in micro biology and her thesis work was on a cancer vaccine. I obviously regard her opinion highly. But we constantly review our choices and we try to err on the side of having least impact if we’re wrong. Point is, measles is a killer. Get that vaccine. Chicken pox, not so much.

JLeslie's avatar

@robmandu I read up on the hep B vaccine at birth, because that bothered me also. They do it because if the mother has hep B it is given to the baby and can be very bad, the vaccine prevents it if the mother was infected. The mother can be tested though during pregnancy, but “they” argue from the time of the test, to the time the mom actually gives birth, if some weeks have passed the mom might now be positive. I still don’t like that vaccine given at birth unless someone is in a high risk group, in my opnion.

Chicken pox is much more dangerous in adulthood, so if your kids don’t get it by age 12 you might want to vaccinate. It is unfortunetly harder and harder to expose children to chicken pox due to the vaccine, so parents who want to expose their children have more of a challenge.

I never get the flu vaccine either. My mom worked for the FDA in vaccinations, she never does either. My father chooses to get it.

crisw's avatar


Just wanted to point out something about chickenpox and vaccination.

Yes, chickenpox is usually a mild disease. But chickenpox infection in childhood can lead to shingles infection later in life. About 20% of chickenpox patients will develop shingles, an extremely painful disorder, at some time in their lives. There is a shingles vaccine, but it isn’t as effective as the chickenpox vaccine is.

robmandu's avatar

@crisw, yup… my understanding of the childhood chickenpox vaccine is that it is ineffective against protecting against adult shingles.

JLeslie's avatar

Right, the chicken pox vaccine means you can still get shingles. They have had cases of young children coming down with shingles, and some blame the vaccine. Not sure what the research is on that. If you never get chicken pox, and you never get the vaccine, so you are never exposed to varicella virus in any form, then you cannot get shingles.

dannyc's avatar

As someone who remembers the dreaded polio outbreaks of yesteryear, I can only say what I think a miracle these vaccines are for humankind. In my opinion, to not give your child a vaccine is quite surprising and ill-advised in this era.

BarnacleBill's avatar

My daughter was not vaccinated for HPV and developed cervical cancer at age 21. She had started the shots, but there is a 6 month delay for the second shot, and she never went back. I wish I had stayed on top of it and made her do it.

JLeslie's avatar

@BarnacleBill Cancer? Or, displaysia? Was she getting regular Pap smears? Did you find out if her HPV was even one of the varieties covered by the vaccine? Maybe it would not have helped and you don’t need to feel so guilty? Had she had sex before the vaccine possibly?

mote's avatar

@robmandu @JLeslie. That is wrong. If you are vaccinated against chicken pox as a child and thus never develop a true varicella infection, you cannot later in life develop shingles, which reflects reactivation of latent virus that lives in the dorsal root ganglia. Basically, if the original virus never sets up shop in your nerves in the first place, you cannot develop shingles later in life when your immunity wanes.

JLeslie's avatar

@mote Last question on this site. It looks pretty reliable, and pro vaccine.

mote's avatar

I’m skeptical. There have been few to no reported cases of true shingles in vaccinated children. I’d prefer seeing primary citations (i.e. MMWR) rather than a random website. Some children who are vaccinated will develop a mild rash resembling chicken pox which is NOT shingles. More importantly, some kids can also contemporaneously develop a true varicella infection (from an unvaccinated friend) that could then be attributed to the vaccine. In any event, whether the vaccine itself can cause a shingles like disease is not the same as the vaccine NOT PROTECTING AGAINST subsequent real shingles outbreaks. I’ll say it again. If you never get true chicken pox infection, you CANNOT get shingles.

JLeslie's avatar

This site

I’ll look for it on the Merck site (I think they make the vaccine). And, MMWR or CDC.

JLeslie's avatar

Here from the MMWR. See the heading Herpes Zoster Surveillance not far down the page.

mote's avatar

From the MMWR you cited:
“Data for healthy children are more limited, and findings might be influenced by multiple factors (e.g., incomplete ascertainment, limited duration of follow up or no follow up of subjects of older ages, no comprehensive screening for wild-type varicella infection before or after vaccination, or lack of testing all cases to distinguish Oka- from wild-type HZ).”

IF a child develops zoster (a rare outcome in the first place), the only way to tell if it is from an antecedent natural infection or vaccine is to directly characterize the reactivating virus (which few labs are set up to do and few doctors care to investigate). In any event, one of the primary references used in the MMWR section to suggest that Oka can reactivate was this article, which talks about TWO cases of Oka related disease or reactivation, both of which occurred in profoundly immunocompromised children. It goes on to say “Live attenuated varicella vaccine was licensed for routine use in children in 1995, and, since that time, >40 million doses of vaccine have been distributed in the United States. Zoster after vaccination of healthy children also appears to be rare, with <40 recorded cases in which the Oka strain has been found to be causative”. 40 cases out of 40 million doses is not a lot. Furthermore, I suspect that many of these children have underlying (but undiagnosed), immunodeficiencies, since most doctors are entirely unfamiliar with the diagnosis of very rare or unusual diseases. As the author states in the article “It is not surprising, however, that a few apparently healthy immunocompromised individuals have been “unmasked” by severe reactions to varicella vaccine.” Thus, I stand by my initial assertion.

JLeslie's avatar

@mote I was not trying to imply the vaccine gives children zoster immediately following vaccination. It seems to me possible that they too, children who have been vaccinated, might develop shingles later in life. It says in what you quoted they are not following up. So, unless I misunderstand, it is not being followed, but the CDC is stating there that it is a possibility.

To be clear, I am not at all trying to say don’t get the vaccine for fear of shingles.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@JLeslie, she had surgery and radiation. They told her that it was one of the covered varieties. She had been getting Pap smears starting at age 18, and her first one came back with abnormal cells. No, I don’t think she had sex prior to the first two vaccine shots, but what do parents know?

JLeslie's avatar

@BarnacleBill Must have been a very aggressive kind, since she was getting regular pap smears. Must have been scary. I know a couple really bad stories about cervical cancer, and the women had been diligent.

robmandu's avatar

@mote, “Live attenuated varicella vaccine was licensed for routine use in children in 1995, and, since that time, >40 million doses of vaccine have been distributed in the United States.”

1995? Only 16 years ago???

How is that proof that adult-onset shingles will never occurred in people vaccinated as kids?

bkcunningham's avatar

Remember the controversy about the human papillomavius vaccination raised by some researchers? For me, this is the type of discussion that gives me pause when it comes to the recent influx of vaccinations.

…“Whether a risk is worth taking depends not only on the absolute risk, but on the relationship between the potential risk and the potential benefit. If the potential benefits are substantial, most individuals would be willing to accept the risks. But the net benefit of the HPV vaccine to a woman is uncertain. Even if persistently infected with HPV, a woman most likely will not develop cancer if she is regularly screened.15​ So rationally she should be willing to accept only a small risk of harmful effects from the vaccine.

“When weighing evidence about risks and benefits, it is also appropriate to ask who takes the risk, and who gets the benefit. Patients and the public logically expect that only medical and scientific evidence is put on the balance. If other matters weigh in, such as profit for a company or financial or professional gains for physicians or groups of physicians, the balance is easily skewed. The balance will also tilt if the adverse events are not calculated correctly.”... Charlotte Haug, MD, PhD, MSc, in JAMA

robmandu's avatar

@mote, my question above might not be important. Let me attempt a different tack.

The problem with chicken pox isn’t really the itchy rash form that emerges in children. That’s annoying, but not really a significant problem most of the time. What folks really want to prevent is the very painful version that adults suffer known as shingles.

Now, I’ve heard many folks, even doctors, explain that getting chickenpox as a child will prevent the onset of shingles as an adult. Based on your statements, and sites like, that is apparently FALSE. It’s the virus you get as a child that’s dormant in your nerve cells and might re-emerge later in life in older adults as shingles.

Like many, many things in life, this discussion has gotten twisted along the way so that’s the complete opposite of what folks ever intended.

So… even if (for argument’s sake) it turns out that the chickenpox vaccine isn’t 100% effective in preventing adulthood shingles, it’s still better to get the vaccine than to purposely get childhood chickenpox. We want to take steps to avoid getting the Herpes Zoster virus in our nerve cells in the first place… which is the vaccine’s job.

Did I get that right?

mote's avatar

@robmandu With respect to your first point, the article I cited was from 2003. Thus, we are only talking about 8 years, not 16. Not every child received the vaccine at that point, but still <40 out of 40 million is a low rate and probably consistent with undiagnosed or novel immunodeficiency.

With respect to your second question, there are several potential reasons to vaccinate. One is indeed to prevent acute chicken pox (usually benign), two is to prevent adolescent/adult onset chicken pox in unvaccinated or unexposed individuals (potentially quite serious) and three is to prevent shingles in the long run.

Whomever told you that chickenpox as a child prevents shingles has it absolutely wrong. You cannot get shingles without first having chicken pox, with concomitant latent infection by the varicella virus in your nerve cells. Later in life, as your immune system wanes owing to stress, chemotherapy, HIV, steroids, old age, etc., the virus reactivates, travels down the nerves and leads to shingles at the nerve endings. Some people with severely weakened immune systems can also get varicella in their lungs (pneumonia), liver (hepatitis), or all over (disseminated zoster). You can read more here. These are very bad and dangerous diseases.

BTW, to answer the question, if it isn’t already obvious, I am for vaccines.

JLeslie's avatar

@robmandu Right, @mote are agreeing that to get shingles you must have had chicken pox, and it is still unclear I guess if the vaccine might lead to shingles later also. If someone has never had chicken pox, completely negative for varicella (the virus that causes chicken pox) they cannot get shingles. Shingles is caused by the varicella virus.

I do not agree that the varicella vaccine/chicken pox vaccine was created mostly to avoid shingles. I think it was created to avoid getting chicken pox. I would have to check, but I think something like 5,000–10,000 people a year where being hospitalized due to chicken pox in the US pre-vaccine? Majority were adults. I think the death rate was only about a hundred people a year. But, still, 100 people, not good.

As a side note, I have been getting shingles since my 20’s.

augustlan's avatar

I got chickenpox as a kid, and shingles in my thirties, just for a point of reference.

bkcunningham's avatar

Me too @augustlan. I was an infant in a crib when I got chickenpox. I was 42 when I had a mild bout of shingles on my lower right chest. My elderly aunt got shingles on her face and lost her vision in one eye. Really sad. She had chickenpox when she was a child.

JLeslie's avatar

@mote Another Q just made me think of this question again. There are incidence of people getting polio from children just given polio drops, isn’t that the same idea? The children don’t have the disease, but they are given the attenuated virus, and shed the virus.

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