Pharmacology is the branch of biology that studies the interactions between living organisms and drugs that get into these organisms and cause various chemical processes. Early pharmacologists were mainly focused on natural agents such as plants. Due to the development of technologies modern world, pharmacology has also changed. Contemporary pharmacologists use not only natural substances but also combine different advanced tools of chemistry, genetics, and molecular biology in order to create the appropriate methods for preventive care, cure of serious diseases, or construct personalized medicine.
Pharmacology is an important issue in the field of medicine in general and children vaccination in particular. Vaccination has been one of the acutest topics since it was first introduced in 1796 by Edward Jenner who suggested a cowpox vaccine (Malone & Hinman, 2003). Nearly 100 years later, the vaccine against rabies appeared. Later in the 20th century, many more vaccines were introduced and they are still in use today. The introduction of vaccination was declared one of the greatest achievements in public health. However, since then, this issue has been controversial, and there are a number of benefits and drawbacks related to its use, especially when considering child care. Historically, vaccination has been an important milestone in terms of preventing various serious diseases such as pertussis, chickenpox, diphtheria, measles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, mumps, polio, rubella, tetanus, and others. The majority of them might develop in early childhood, causing inevitable hospitalization and in more severe cases, even death.
The development of medical care has proved a tremendous effect on the population’s overall health conditions. The pharmaceutical sector has contributed greatly the decrease of diseases in the world, thus resulting in a better health picture and lower morbidity. However, a great number of parents doubt whether vaccines are efficient and whether they do not cause irreparable side effects for their children’s young bodies and still sensitive immune system. There are also cases when parents choose not to vaccinate children due to their religious or community-based beliefs, which may also affect their health in many ways. This paper is to reveal the topic with regards to the advantages and disadvantages of children vaccination and the necessity to perform a mandatory vaccination for children.
The Appropriate Use of the Pharmacology Related to the Mandated Vaccinations for Children
Vaccines are equally efficient and safe. However, they are not 100% perfect even nowadays. The number of successful outcomes significantly exceeds the failures in mandatory vaccination, and the majority of the population obtains a predictable and durable result of the chosen vaccination. Nevertheless, there are cases when vaccinated individuals experience side effects such as redness of local soreness at the place of the injection. In some more severe cases, there might be more serious negative outcomes, even death. The substantial part of these cases is observed with infants at a very young age, up to the age of two. The reasons are mainly caused by independent factors and they are not caused directly by the vaccine itself (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 1996). Vaccine Safety Datalink provides a number as much as 2% of such cases throughout the USA (Chen et al., 2000).
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The issue of vaccination should be reviewed from the point of view of its effectiveness. Thus, the final decision of introducing a vaccine is based on the relative balance between the benefits and risks. For instance, the modern polio vaccine has a risk of developing into paralysis in the proportion of 1 occurrence for every 2.4 million cases (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 2000). Although there is still a small risk, this vaccine is definitely worth implementing as the benefit is beyond any doubt. Wild polioviruses, which had circulated in the USA and the Western hemisphere before the vaccine was introduced, caused much more damage if compared to vaccines. Nowadays, due to vaccination, the population is firmly secured from such an outcome, and the US healthcare system has managed to eradicate the occurrences of paralysis originating from that wild virus, the last case of which was recorded back in 1979 (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 2000). The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (2000) suggested an improved version of polio vaccine in 1997, and as a result, the risk of health damages from this vaccine has been diminished to zero.
Reasons to Perform Mandated Vaccination for Children
The major reason of vaccination is to protect not only a single individual but also a larger community that depends on the health condition of its members. The bulk of the diseases that require vaccination are mainly transmitted from one person to another either by immediate contact or through the common objects of use. Therefore, when an individual is vaccinated, their environment is less prone to the disorder than otherwise. For instance, the proportion of the individuals of vaccinated community to avoid the infection caused by poliomyelitis makes about 80%, whereas for measles, this figure is over 90% (Chen et al., 2000).
According to Kubiszyn and Mire (2014), the basic advantages of vaccination for children are as follows. Firstly, immunization is extremely important. A complex of preventive vaccinations is needed for every child during the first year of life. Half of all deaths of children from pertussis, one-third of poliomyelitis, and one-quarter of measles account for children under one year. Therefore, immunization should begin as early as the first year of the child’s life (Kubiszyn & Mire, 2014).
Immunization protects the child from a number of dangerous diseases. Unvaccinated children are more likely to be sick, acquire a persistent disability, or die. Vaccinations should be given to all children, including those with reduced physical or mental capabilities. Vaccines are effective only before the onset of a disease. All children should receive an inoculation against poliomyelitis. Of every 200 polio cases, one remains an invalid for life. Bacteria or tetanus spores, developing in wounds and cuts, can lead to death in the absence of timely vaccinations. Therefore, newborn children are vaccinated against tetanus. All children need an inoculation against hepatitis B since 1 out of 10 unvaccinated children has an infectious agent in the body for life, and at a later age, cirrhosis or a liver tumor can develop. Vaccination against Haemophilus infection type B helps prevent severe illnesses such as infantile meningitis with a fatal outcome. Diphtheria is a deadly disease. Breast milk and colostrum, which are produced in the mother’s body in the first days after childbirth, provide a reliable protection of the newborn from pneumonia, diarrhea, and other diseases during the entire period of breastfeeding (Kubiszyn & Mire, 2014).
For each vaccination, the doctor determines the indication and contraindications based on the child’s state of health. The presence of a functional impairment, disability, or insufficient weight of the child are not a contraindication to immunization. After the injection of a vaccine, the child can cry, they might have a fever, or a slight inflammation at the injection site. Thus, it is necessary to continue to breastfeed the child, to give a sufficient quantity of liquids, and to feed when required. If the condition worsens, the child should be taken to the hospital immediately (Kubiszyn & Mire, 2014). In the places of large concentrations of people, infections are spread especially quickly. To prevent this, it is necessary to act in accordance with the instructions of the state sanitary and epidemiological supervision (Kubiszyn & Mire, 2014).
Vaccination as a Promotion of Health and Wellness
Organizations that are connected with pharmacology and the nursing practice should conduct some randomized controlled trials. One of such trials of nursing practice is reviewed in the article by Bench and Metcalfe “Randomised Controlled Trials: An Introduction for Nurse Researchers”. They can ensure main arguments in the information of nursing practice and determination of the relationship between the cause and effect (Bench et al., 2013). In the USA, vaccination is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (“42 U.S. Code § 262,” n.d.). The majority of children to be vaccinated receive the procedure from family physicians and private podiatrists. On the other hand, there are a relatively small number of families that have vaccination in the public sector. The average cost of a mandatory set of vaccines is about $600 per child. This fee is calculated with the regards to the government grants for the overall vaccination project that were introduced in 1962 (“42 U.S. Code § 247b,” n.d.). In order to assist families to maintain vaccination schedule and regime and avoid over-vaccination, the government provides the corresponding assistance, considering the population’s high mobility and migration (Chen et al., 2000).
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The Reaction to the Outcomes and Safety of Vaccination
The fact that vaccination is safe and efficient to a great extend does not mean that it is accepted by all US families. The reasons for refusal include religious beliefs, philosophical considerations, the influence of the Internet information against vaccination, and others. In some rare cases due to specific health conditions, vaccination should not be held. This includes the families (or their children) who are estimated as particularly inclined to some kind of disease, whereas other families that refuse mandatory vaccination have religious or their own philosophical considerations. Thus, 48 US states accept religious and 15 allow philosophical exemptions from child vaccination (Guidelines Working Group, 2001). Nevertheless, the state authorities demand the appropriate evidence of belonging to some acknowledged religious community that declines vaccination. In the case of philosophical grounds, the respective explanations are required as well. All in all, less than 1% of unvaccinated children enter educational establishments, while occasionally in some communities, this figure can reach the point of 5%. According to the statistic data of the 1980s and 1990s for measles, for instance, there 1,200 outbreaks of measles with nine lethal cases in the religious communities rejecting vaccination were recorded. The First Amendment to the US Constitution clearly stipulates the right to free exercise of a religion. Nevertheless, based on the court practice of numerous cases, the refusal from vaccination is regarded as undesirable due to a possible negative impact on the community’s overall health picture.
The fact that vaccination is safe and efficient with minor cases of ineffectiveness implies that it should be mandatory in order to protect communities from any epidemic as well as prevent undesirable consequences. The families’ rights to exercise any recognized religion or follow their own philosophical considerations are not in danger, as the issue is connected not only with a particular child but also with the health of the community. The pharmaceutical research and statistics clearly demonstrate that the risks of vaccination are minimal as compared to the benefits. Moreover, the government programs supporting the order of vaccination are flexible enough to provide an efficient fulfillment. In addition, the data from past decades reveal the effective fight against the diseases caused by viruses the population is vaccinated against, which diminishes the risk of their spread and further appearance.