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Are vaccines safe? Show more Show less
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Immunisation is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. "Anti-vaxxers” have firm convictions about vaccines’ harmful effects and many people believe their children have been harmed by vaccines. Others have ‘vaccine hesistancy’: they are not inherently anti-vaccine, but are concerned or confused by the mixed messages they are exposed to and want to do the best for their children.

Vaccines are safe Show more Show less

Until the beginning of the 20th Century, infectious diseases were the most common cause of death. This is no longer the case because of the development of vaccines. The reality is that vaccines have saved countless lives.
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Vaccines undergo extensive testing

Before any vaccine are made available they must pass many stringent safety tests.

Context

For accurate information on the efficiency of vaccines, consult the WHO website.[1]

The Argument

Every vaccination must first undergo rigorous testing to assess its effectiveness and safety before it can be placed on the market. Once released, there are also extensive monitoring mechanisms that assess the continued efficacy and safety of the inoculation.[2] Western countries all have robust reporting mechanism for identifying side effects. These show minimal side effects from immunisation (e.g. a sore arm at injection site). These tests prevent unsafe vaccinations coming to market and protect the population at large. Very occasionally a faulty or defective batch of vaccines can reach the general public, however, these are individually tainted products of a vaccine that has already been proven to be safe to use.

Counter arguments

Ultimately, the nation’s business interests are put before safety. Vaccines generate US$25 billion in annual sales. At any one time, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has 271 new vaccines under development. With this sum of money at stake, it is in the national economic interest to approve as many vaccines for sale as possible. In an environment where companies put profits ahead of patient safety, this leads to unsafe vaccinations reaching the market.[3] There are examples of pharmaceutical companies manipulating testing to get their products to market early. Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski, two former Merk virologists, came forward and alleged that the firm faked efficacy tests for its measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.[4]

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Vaccines are extensively tested to ensure they are safe. [P2] Only those that pass the tests can be brought to market. [P3] Therefore, the vaccines on the market are safe. [P4] If pharmaceutical companies only wanted to make money, infectious disease outbreaks would be a lot more lucrative.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Those that carry out the tests have a financial interest in the results. [Rejecting P2] This can sometimes lead to unsafe vaccines entering the market

References

  1. https://www.who.int/topics/vaccines/en/
  2. https://www.livescience.com/57488-vaccine-safety-numbers.html
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/debate-over-vaccine-safety#5
  4. https://ahrp.org/former-merck-scientists-sue-merck-alleging-mmr-vaccine-efficacy-fraud/

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This page was last edited on Monday, 23 Mar 2020 at 14:27 UTC

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