The body’s immune system helps protect pathogens that cause infections. Most of the time, it is an efficient system that keeps pathogens at bay or tracks them down and eliminates them. However, some pathogens can overwhelm the immune system. The pathogens that are most likely to cause problems are the ones the body doesn’t recognize. Vaccination is a way to teach the immune system how to identify and eliminate a pathogen. This way, the body is prepared if it’s ever exposed. Vaccinations are an essential form of primary prevention. However, while there are several benefits for taking receiving vaccinations, there are also drawbacks to receiving vaccinations. Before making this decision, it is essential to know what the pros and cons are to getting vaccinated.

What are the pros of vaccinations?

Vaccines protect the “herd.” Herd immunity means that when a critical portion of a population is vaccinated against a contagious disease, it is unlikely that an outbreak of the disease will occur. Getting a vaccination costs parents less time and money than caring for a sick child.

A vaccinated child has a lower risk of obtaining an infectious disease that requires parents to take time off work, develop potential long-term disabilities, and incur medical costs. Vaccinated mothers protect their unborn child from diseases that could potentially cause birth defects, and vaccinated communities can help eradicate diseases for future generations. Also, vaccinations have helped us control diseases that once threatened many lives like measles, polio, tetanus, and whooping cough.

The CDC has estimated that children vaccinated between 1994 and 2014 yielded net savings of $1.38 trillion in “societal costs,” including money saved by preventing loss of productivity due to disability and early death. While there are numerous benefits to vaccination, there are also cons against vaccinations.

What are the cons against vaccinations?

According to the CDC, all vaccines carry a risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, in about one per million children. Some vaccination laws can prevent unvaccinated children from attending public school. Parents should have the right to decide what treatments their children receive, without feeling pressured and without the notion that the government is intervening. Mandatory vaccines infringe upon several religious freedoms that oppose vaccines. Pharmaceutical companies, the FDA, and the CDC should not be trusted to regulate safe vaccines. The primary goal of pharmaceutical companies is to sell drugs and make a profit. Vaccines can contain ingredients some people consider immoral or objectionable. Some vaccines contain pig gelatin and egg proteins that make these vaccines conflict with vegetarian and vegan philosophies. Even if someone is vaccinated, there is still a chance they could still get sick.

Side effects of vaccines

Side effects vary depending on the vaccine type, but common side effects include:

  • Pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site
  • Nausea
  • Mild Fever
  • Chills
  • Feeling tired
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint aches

Most cases of vaccine sides effects are minor and go away within a few days. Although highly uncommon of a serious allergic reaction to vaccines, parents should keep an eye out for any unusual conditions. Signs of a serious allergic reaction include, difficulty breathing, hoarseness, hives, paleness, and a fast heartbeat.

As mentioned before, vaccination teaches the body to recognize new diseases. While protecting the “herd” and saving parents time and money are beneficial, vaccines come with downsides such as preventing unvaccinated children from attending school and the pressure parents undergo to vaccinate their child. Before receiving vaccinations, it is helpful to know how vaccines can protect the body and how they can be harmful.