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Vaccine Controversy
January 2003

Q. What is your opinion of the vaccine controversy? I've read that the only documented cases of polio in the U.S. are caused by the live oral polio vaccine. I've also read that vaccines are grown from fetal tissue. Parents don't seem to have control regarding mandatory vaccines and children are sometimes given vaccinations for several diseases all at once, which can cause severe reactions. Do you think parents should have the right to choose?

A. It is mandated by law in most states that children be fully immunized for their own protection and the protection of those around them. Modern vaccines are quite safe though not completely risk free. Many vaccines are to protect against viral diseases which can be serious, even fatal, have a high attack rate, and have no treatment.

For example, the worldwide influenza epidemic in 1918 killed millions of people, as have smallpox and measles before vaccines were discovered. By contrast, vaccine reactions are most commonly a sore arm and possible low-grade fever for a day. Occurrence of the actual disease after an immunization can occur in a person whose immune system is compromised. The interest of the public is clearly well-served by current policy and law.



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