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ESL Debate – Compulsory Vaccinations

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 @ 06:07 PM
posted by Jo

Should countries make vaccination compulsory?


Vaccines supposedly represent one of the most successful and effective interventions in medicine. By vaccinating people, society has been able to eradicate numerous diseases that caused millions of deaths before. A dramatic example is smallpox, which was responsible for some of the most formidable epidemics of humankind. In 1967 it was the cause of 2 million deaths; a decade later it was totally eradicated from the planet and many claim this was due to the global vaccination program. Many countries have thus made it compulsory for people to be vaccinated against various diseases. However, together with vaccination rose also anti-vaccination movements. Nowadays pharmaceutical companies are getting enormous profits from vaccination and different interest groups promote either the option of free choice or of compulsory vaccination.


  • Vaccination / Immunisation (n) – the act of vaccinating a person / making them immune
  • Vaccinate (v) - to protect a person or animal from a disease by giving them a vaccine
  • Vaccine (n) - a substance which contains a weak form of the bacteria or virus that causes a disease and is used to protect people from that disease:
  • Toxic (a) - containing poison, or caused by poisonous substances
  • Side-effect (n) - an effect that a drug has on your body in addition to curing pain or illness
  • Medication (n) - medicine or drugs given to people who are ill
  • Disease (n) - an illness which affects a person, animal, or plant
  • Irresponsible (a) - doing careless things without thinking or worrying about the possible bad results
  • Endemic (a) - an endemic disease or problem is always present in a particular place, or among a particular group of people
  • Pandemic (n) - a disease that affects people over a very large area or the whole world
  • Compulsory (a) - something that is compulsory must be done because it is the law or because someone in authority orders you to
  • Prevent (v) - to stop something from happening, or stop someone from doing something




Prevention is better than cure; vaccines are better than treatments. A vaccine is the best way to prevent an outbreak of a disease or to reduce its negative effects. Vaccinated people become immune to a certain pathogen and do not develop a disease. Although there are occasionally side effects, these affect only a tiny number of people compared to the protection offered to the vast majority. Many vaccines have serious and sometimes deadly side effects With many vaccines the immunity is not life-long. Sometimes the vaccines itself can cause a serious disease to develop as a side effect. If governments know that compulsory mass vaccination is likely to cause death or permanent disability in even a few cases, it is immoral for them to make it compulsory.


Compulsory vaccination improves overall public health The child mortality rate is lower and the natality rate is higher, greater outbreaks of diseases are prevented. The overall health situation improves for all the people in a designated area. As for the claims made against vaccines, these are based upon irrational anti-science attitudes and media scare stories. There are many more likely causes of asthma and study after study has found that the MMR vaccine is safe and effective. Rise in certain illnesses can be attributed to vaccines. These illnesses include ear infections, allergies, and asthma in children can be attributed (at least in part) to the damaging effects of vaccines. The incidence of asthma, the most serious and life threatening of these conditions has steadily increased in the modern era since the introduction of vaccines. In the UK controversy surrounds the use of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) triple vaccine, with many parents refusing vaccination for their children or insisting that they be vaccinated separately against the three illnesses. 
Vaccination is a natural way to strengthen the immune system. Through vaccination our immune system recognises the pathogens and develops a suitable response prior to being faced with the "real disease." Some vaccines include toxic materials. These chemicals include mercury, formaldehyde, aluminium, and a variety of other known toxic materials. Vaccines might be capable of causing recurrent infections in children because they weaken the immune system.


Compulsory vaccination has helped eradicate devastating diseases. These include small pox, polio, measles, etc. The numbers of people with the diseases decreased dramatically after the vaccine was introduced. With better vaccines, and more comprehensive and effective vaccination programmes, even more suffering and deaths could be prevented. Even if they do not trust their particular governments, people should believe the overwhelming weight of medical opinion and the backing of the World Health Organisation in favour of vaccination.


Figures on efficacy of vaccines are doctored. Statistics are shown partially, diseases are falsely diagnosed and re-diagnosed, public scarce campaigns are organised by the protagonists of compulsory vaccination, etc., all of which results in unrepresentative data. After the CJD-BSE health disaster in the UK, and tragedies connected to the contamination of blood products in several countries, people no longer trust either governments or the scientific establishment to tell them the truth.
The state has a right to impose compulsory vaccination: In an industrialised country such as the USA, those choosing exemption from statutorily compulsory vaccination were 35-times more likely to contract measles than vaccinated persons; in developing countries where these viruses are still endemic, the risk would be considerably higher. Those who wish to opt-out of vaccination are hoping to benefit from the more responsible behaviour of the rest of society. Unfortunately, irresponsible behaviour soon spreads and diseases which were once under control become endemic again; this can be seen with outbreaks of measles in parts of London where childhood vaccination rates have dropped sharply in recent years, resulting in unnecessary suffering and some deaths or permanent disabilities.


Compulsory vaccinations contradicts many religious beliefs. These individuals believe that God created the human body as a temple, and that the body should not be destroyed by injecting a virus into the body. By making vaccination compulsory, people's freedom to choose is curtailed and that is an infringement on human rights. In any case, it doesn't matter if a few people choose not to be vaccinated, as if the large majority of the population is protected from a disease, there will be too few carriers for it to become endemic, so the risk to those opting-out is very small.
Vaccination helps prevent negative economic effects of disease. Productivity rates remain high and less money is earmarked for social and health transfers because people are healthier. The developing world would benefit enormously from effective and compulsory vaccines against killer diseases such as AIDS and malaria, but irrational opposition to vaccination in developed countries makes it less likely that government resources and the attention of pharmaceutical companies will be targeted towards these goals. Compulsory vaccinations programs are complicated and expensive. Vaccines themselves are expensive to develop in the lab and to mass produce for widespread compulsory vaccination programs. In addition to these upfront costs, organizing compulsory vaccination programs across an entire country can be very complicated and expensive. For instance, mechanisms must be set in place to ensure that the program is indeed compulsory, which means establishing a database of those that have and have not received the vaccine.



What is your opinion about vaccinations? You are welcome to share your opinion by adding a comment to this article.


Debate topic © International Debate Education Association (http://idebate.org), used under Creative Commons license.

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