Is Avoiding the Flu While Pregnant Worth a Shot? Whether Vaccinations Should be Required by Law

This first part of the year has been  difficult for many who have gotten sick with some strain of influenza. With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reporting a January flu outbreak in at least 35 states, the debate on vaccinating children continues to be a heated topic.

For parents who don't trust the safety of vaccinations, no subject is more passionately argued. Vaccination information groups are trying to spread the word on "essential truths about immunizations" through websites and offer resources where parents can find information. Flu vaccines are just one type of immunization subject to this debate.


No federal vaccination law exists currently, but every state does require  certain vaccinations for children entering the public school system. Depending on where you live, your child must be vaccinated for some or all of these diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, and polio. Each of the 50 states does allow exemptions—for medical, philosophical or religious reasons.

On this polarizing topic, proponents argue that diseases like rubella, diphtheria and whooping cough once killed thousands of infants annually and are now virtually wiped  out thanks to vaccinations. The national average for children who have been vaccinated for these and other diseases by the time they start school is slightly over 95%. Most school-aged children have received 24 vaccines in their lifetime.

Opponents argue that a child's immune system can deal with most infections without help, and their natural immunity should be allowed to develop. They are concerned about adverse reactions including allergies, ADHD, multiple sclerosis, and autism. A common practice for the anti-vaccination group is dedication to an active lifestyle and careful food choices centered on local and organic options. They practice healthy habits to develop healthy bodies.

No vaccination is without some minor risk. The pro-vaccination group believes that if a child's immune system is strong enough to fight off vaccination-preventable diseases, then it's strong enough to fight off the small amount of dead or weakened pathogens present in vaccines. They contend that children who have avoided these illnesses without benefit of immunizations are lucky, but if vaccination rates decline they worry that there will be less herd immunity and that luck could run out.

What do you think about vaccinations?