Vaccines: Life Saver or Taker?

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Vaccines: Life Saver or Taker?

Riley Sims, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Oct. 12, 2018, showed that the number of children ages 19 to 35 months who don’t receive vaccines has increased. From 2001 to 2015, the number has quadrupled from 0.3 percent to 1.3 percent.

One reason for the decline in vaccines is the lack of insurance coverage for some. The CDC states that vaccinations were lower with uninsured families and families on Medicaid. However, there are programs made to assist these families, such as the Vaccine for Children Program (VFC). According to, the program provides all of the recommended vaccines for free to children under the age of 19 who qualify for Medicaid, are Native American or Alaskan Native or who don’t have insurance. While some families who qualify for this program still aren’t being vaccinated due to the inconvenient business hours and locations, clinics are trying to make it easier for them.

“Clinics, before school started, they had special hours so parents could take their kiddos there,” HST teacher Annette Chinske said. “I know my Tom Thumb has a lab inside, and their pharmacists are licensed to give vaccinations now.”

In order to get free vaccines under the VFC program, the child must go to a doctor who is enrolled in the program. According to the CDC’s website, there are over 44,000 doctors enrolled in the program nationwide. However, other factors, such as unfamiliarity with the program and lack of transportation to the clinics, have prevented some families from reaching these physicians.

“I’m not sure [the CDC’s vaccination program] is reaching the people that need to get the information,” Chinske said. “I know it has been translated at least into Spanish and probably Vietnamese, but there may need to be some more translations into different languages.”

Children may not be vaccinated because their parents are against vaccination or are worried about side effects. One of the biggest controversies about vaccines is that they may cause autism. This theory first came to life on Feb. 28, 1998, when British gastroenterologist, a physician who deals with the gastrointestinal tract, Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues published a paper in The Lancet, one of the oldest medical journals. The paper mentioned eight children whose first symptoms of autism appeared a month after receiving a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Wakefield suggested that the vaccine caused an intestinal inflammation, which leads to the movement of non-permeable, or impenetrable, peptides to the bloodstream that eventually reach the brain and affect development. This led to many studies conducted on the issue and sparked fear amongst parents. However, there has been no link shown between the two in these studies, and researchers have found flaws in Wakefield’s experiment, like the lack of a control group and the later discovery that the MMR vaccine viruses weren’t found to cause chronic intestinal inflammation.

“There has not been any scientific study proven to show any vaccine causes autism, but since the information came out, people have trouble getting the information that disproved it, and so it is really confusing,” Chinske said.

Because of this confusion, conflicts have arisen with children who are not vaccinated at school. By law, each school district must have students’ vaccine records on file. Student’s are required to have 11 different shots on record. However, if a family chooses to not give their child vaccines because of beliefs or medical reasons, they must fill out proper documentation. If an outbreak of a disease were to occur on campus, the family is allowed to pull their child out of school, and the school would take necessary precautions. School nurse Jack Buck said that if a outbreak were to occur, the CDC would take over and letters would be sent home to parents.

“Usually what ends up happening is you isolate the student in question, and then the CDC pretty much takes care of them and then blasts out [the situation] to parents,” Buck said. “Then we would just follow the CDC’s protocol.”

At North Garland, however, the concerns surrounding vaccines are less prevalent due to the amount of vaccinated students.

“One hundred percent of our student body is caught up on their vaccinations, which is awesome,” Buck said. “We are one of the few high schools that is one hundred percent.”