This paper explores tuberculosis vaccination programs with an eye toward greater public safety without ignoring the reality of a small but committed group of vaccine critics. Vaccination is widely considered one of the greatest medical achievements of modern civilisation. For some people in the society, however, it is no routine matter. Vaccination has had its critics since the time of Jenner’s smallpox vaccine (the first modern vaccine developed). Some have focused on the personal liberty interests at stake and have objected to the paternalistic nature of government imposition of what is viewed as a personal medical choice. Today, some parents raise similar objections. The idea that a potentially harmful substance is being placed directly into the bloodstream raises a red flag for some. Nevertheless, as the CDC has pointed out, that most adverse effects from vaccines are minor and temporary, such as mild fever or a sore arm. (Hansen-Flaschen, 2018)General research has also indicated that childhood diseases that were commonplace less than a generation ago are now increasingly rare because of vaccines.
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On March 24, 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious, infectious disease, due to Mycobacterium tuberculosis that has always been a permanent challenge over the course of human history, because of its severe social implications. (centres for disease control and prevention)It usually lasts throughout the life course and determines the formation of tubercles in different parts of the body. Two conditions were known for this diseases, latent tuberculosis and active tuberculosis. Person with latent TB infection do not have any symptoms except a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test. They cannot spread Tb infection to others, however, it can gradually become active TB if timely treatment was not received. In some people, TB bacteria overcome the defences of the immune system and begin to multiply, resulting in the progression from latent TB infection to active TB disease which is considered as infectious. Unlike latent TB, active TB can be recognised with symptoms such as coughing over a long period of time, chest pain and unintentional weight loss, etc. while TB usually affects the lungs, it can also affect other parts of the body and the symptoms will vary accordingly.
There are many reasons why vaccinations are required for children. For one, with the increase of vaccine distribution, fatalities associated with tuberculosis among children and teens is preventable at a higher rate than without vaccines. TB has always been associated with a high mortality rate over the centuries, and also nowadays, it is estimated to be responsible for 1.4 million TB deaths, among infectious disease after human immunodeficiency virus. Throughout the 1600-1800s in Europe, TB caused 25% of all deaths. Similar numbers occurred in the United States. After Albert Calmette and Jean-Marie Camille Guerin developed the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in 1921, a number of publications reported on the BCG vaccination of children between 1921 and 1927. Calmette said that between 1921 and 1927, 969 children had been vaccinated of whom 202 had mothers with TB and the remainder had close contact with disease. Of those children only 3.9% died of either tuberculosis or of other unspecified causes, the comparable rate for unvaccinated children was 32.6%. (government, 2019)
Statistically, public health officials, faced with a means of protecting the general population form the harmful disease tuberculosis, realised that mass vaccination could lead to a sufficient level of immunity eliminate the risk of outbreak, even for those in the community unable to vaccinate (due to medical reasons, for instance.) The encouragement by states to vaccinate children in order to enter public school, with certain exceptions began when tragic consequences began to occur including disease outbreak due to parents opt out of vaccinating,. Australia reports approximately 1300 cases of TB per year and has a TB case notification rate of 5.5 cases per 100,000 population. This rate had essentially remained unchanged since the mid-1980s, however, a slight increase in rates had been observed since 2003. (medical news today, 2018)It was this that angered the public as many parents decided to opt out of vaccinating their children. Therefore, in order to contain the spread of disease and protect those who are unimmunised, a large percentage of the population must be vaccinated. Some people are unable to get vaccinated due to age limitation, allergic, or have other medical reasons. Either way, those who are unimmunised are at a higher risk of being influenced by a disease. It is necessary to emphasise the idea that vaccinations not only benefit these receiving the vaccine but also prevent the spread of disease that would affect the unvaccinated.
Another benefit of vaccinations is that in vaccinating everyone now, future generations would be protected from the exposure of the same diseases faced in today’s world. World Tuberculosis Day has been held on March 23 each year to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 54 million lives since the year 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 42 per cent. Other diseases are on their way of becoming eradicated as well, such as polio and measles. At the time, polio has been eliminated in the U.S. since 1974 and eliminated in the western hemisphere since 1994. (INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL AND HEALTH)From these statistics, it is known that the containment, elimination, and eradication of diseases are possible through the administration of vaccines. Therefore, by continuing to vaccinate people, other diseases could also be eradicated and future generations could be protected from the diseases that this nation faces today.
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Despite the fact the majority of TB cases can be cured when the right medication is available and administered correctly, a BCG vaccine is still recommended for infant. As TB medication can be toxic to the liver, and although side effects are uncommon, potential serious consequences can occur. Those side effects should be reported to a doctor include dark urine, fever and jaundice. Further risks of denying BCG vaccination should be altered as any bacteria that have survived the treatment could become resistant to the medication that has been rescrubbed and could lead to developing MDR-TB in the future. (Tuberculosis, 2019)
To conclude, vaccines have immeasurably improved quality of human life. They have led to the eradication of deadly diseases like smallpox and the near elimination of diseases such as polio and measles. The lifesaving benefits of vaccination often overshadow the vast economic and personal benefits it has helped provide. In economic terms, this translates directly into fewer missed hours of work and less administrative difficulty, leading to a generally more productive society. Nevertheless, for all the benefits of vaccine, it is important not to ignore the costs. Moreover, Despite Australia’s history of success in reducing TB, there is no room for complacency. Global connectivity through migration means that TB will remain a public health concern in Australia until worldwide control of TB is achieved.
- centres for disease control and prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved from tuberculosis: https://www.cdc.gov/tb/worldtbday/history.htm
- government, q. (2019). queensland government. Retrieved from BCG vaccination: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/diseases-infection/diseases/tuberculosis/treatment/bcg-vaccination
- Hansen-Flaschen, J. (2018). britannica. Retrieved from BCG vaccine: https://www.britannica.com/science/BCG-vaccine
- INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL AND HEALTH. (n.d.). Retrieved from Vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines: https://www.who.int/ith/ITH-Chapter6.pdf
- medical news today. (2018, 11 16). Retrieved from All you need to know about tuberculosis: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8856.php
- Tuberculosis. (2019). Retrieved from mayo clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tuberculosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351250
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