Vaccines play a special role in the health and security of nations. The World Health Organization (WHO) cites "immunization and the provision of clean water as the two public health interventions that have had the greatest impact on the world's health", and the World Bank notes that "vaccines are among the most cost-effective health interventions available". Over the past century, the integration of immunization into routine health care services in many countries has provided caregivers with some degree of control over disease-related morbidity and mortality, especially among infants and children.
Despite these extraordinary successes, vaccines and their constituents (e.g., the mercury compound thimerosal, formerly used as a preservative) have come under attack in some countries as causes of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; diabetes; and a variety of allergic and autoimmune diseases (Brown, p.181). Although millions of lives are saved by vaccines each year and countless cases of postinfection disability are averted, some segments of the public are increasingly unwilling to accept any risk whatsoever of vaccine-associated complications (severe or otherwise), and resistance to vaccination is growing (Jacobson, p. 3165)
No medical procedure is absolutely risk-free, and the risk to the individual must always be balanced with benefits ...Show more