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dfishervan's picture

What risk to take?

    The issue of autism and the MMR vaccine is an interesting one as it asks society to consider abandoning something known because of a fear of the unknown. We can pretty confidently assert that the MMR vaccine is capable of preventing certain types of life-threatening infections however, we are still uncertain about this vaccine’s connection with autism. This unconfirmed risk of autism has caused parents to reject the known benefits of vaccines. While I do feel that this rejection of vaccines for fear of the unknown seems slightly irrational, debilitating and detrimental to herd immunity, I have a hard time justifying making a vaccine mandatory regardless of philosophical or religious beliefs. While the incidence of these infections remains relatively low in our country, I think it is reasonable for parents to have the choice to vaccinate their child. However, the parents should be aware that opting out of vaccinating their child might limit their child’s ability to participate in certain activities. This was not the stance I had when coming into Monday’s class but, I was affected by Professor Grobstein’s comment on the heightened significance of unknown complications when the risk of infection is low. Not to sound naïve or idealistic, but I also wonder if less people in the United States (and other countries where the risk of infection was low) got vaccinated, whether or not we could divert our vaccination hysteria/resources to countries where vaccination is not prevalent and infection poses a greater risk.

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