Should Parents Give Their Children the MMR Vaccine?

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By: Lizbeth Yorio

Copy edited by: Anna Salomon Pasapera and Kevin Qiao

Research edited by: Stefon Wynter

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

The issue with children and vaccinations is not a relatively new one. Apparent even during the time of Benjamin Franklin, the matter continues to plague our society today.[1] One vaccine, in particular, that has caused much heated debate is the MMR, or measles-mumps-rubella, vaccine. As now a requirement in all 50 states to attend public school, parents have to wonder if the vaccine is all that beneficial. [2]

What’s So Great About MMR?

Supporters of the MMR vaccine argue that it is wholly valuable not only to the child, but to society as well. In accordance with the beliefs of the CDC, they hold that the vaccination is the best way to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella. [3] One dose of MMR is 93% effective, while two doses are 97% effective for prevention. [4] In having these hard statistics, supporters maintain that the MMR vaccine is the best way in preventing the spread of measles, mumps, and rubella. They also believe in a concept known as “herd immunity”. With this idea, a community, in which the majority is vaccinated, helps prevent the spread of disease to people who are unvaccinated. [5] So, children having received the MMR vaccine, could ultimately help increase the wellbeing of the community. In accordance with the theory, children receiving the vaccination benefit themselves and the other children around them. Another factor in the supporter’s case to vaccinate, is the weak link to dangerous side effects. A study conducted by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in 1998 confirmed a link between the vaccine, autism, and Crohn’s disease. [6] This study, however, was retracted and discredited. As a result of this, many pro-vaccinators reasoned that since there is no conclusive and convincing evidence tying MMR to Crohn’s disease or autism, the vaccination is safe. They continue to hold that parents give their children the vaccination. The benefits, in their eyes, outweigh the risks.

It Can’t Be All That Good

The opposing side asserts that children should not be given the vaccination, for it is thoroughly detrimental to the child. Although Wakefield’s study was rejected, some studies have linked MMR to autism, and Crohn’s disease. [7] It is through these findings that parents are still hesitant about giving their children the vaccine. Dr. William Thompson of the CDC claims that the CDC lied about the link of MMR to autism. [8] According to him, they withheld crucial evidence connecting the two together. It is with this finding that opponents of MMR feel that the vaccination is not safe enough to be issued to children. The anti-vaccination group also contests the effectiveness of the vaccine. In 2010, a lawsuit was filed against Merck, manufacturers of MMR, because they submitted false data to the FDA about the efficacy of the vaccine. [9] The case is still ongoing, and in 2012, two other lawsuits were filed against Merck. [9] Among the uncertainties associated with MMR, it isn’t hard to see why there is opposition in giving it to children. There also exists evidence that MMR has actually helped spread epidemics, not prevented them. In Neil Miller’s book Vaccines: Are They Safe and Effective?, he notes that in the outbreak of measles, 63% of the infected had already been vaccinated. [10] Thus, the MMR vaccine proves not to be as effective as claimed by the CDC, and the FDA.

In Conclusion

All in all, I believe that parents should give their children the MMR vaccine. It has been used for many years, worldwide, without any significant damages to society. Despite supposed links to autism, and Crohn’s disease, the risk of disease, I feel, is greater than the risk of the side effects. As a member of society, I believe it is my duty to ensure the wellbeing of my community. I wouldn’t want another child to get sick from my negligence to vaccinate my own. The MMR vaccine is put into place to protect us, not to hurt us.

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