do vaccines have a overall positive effect on global health? Saihaj & Vishaal

Brief History

Vaccines have been around for over 200 years, in this time they have prevented many outbreaks and have suppressed viruses such as smallpox. The history of vaccinations dates all the way back to 429 BC when a Greek historian named thucydides observed that those who managed to survive smallpox would never be able to be reinfected. In the year 900 AD, the Chinese discovered that they could prevent smallpox by putting the tissue of the scabs caused by the disease underneath the skin, This form of vaccination was known as variolation which became popular in Europe where smallpox was still at large. In 1796 a British physician discovered modern vaccination and was able to fully prove that it worked. Soon after the discovery, he was given government funding and support for vaccinations grew. Just like today where people still believe vaccines do more harm than good, people back then believed it didn’t work. By the 1920's vaccines were available for multiple viruses after many years of research. One of the world's largest medical achievements occurred in 1980 when Smallpox was officially declared as eradicated. Today we are seeing many scientists trying to find ways to eradicate cancer which is extremely hard to do as cancer is different for everybody. However it is not impossible, in 2008 a Cervical cancer scientist discovered that a group of viruses named HPV caused it, therefore vaccines were created for it which makes it very hard to get that type of cancer.

Social Impact

There are many different views on the topic of vaccines however it has been mostly positive, ever since the vaccine was first used, there have always been a group of people who believed vaccines were harmful and/or didn’t work, also known as anti-vaxxers. Even centuries later this is still the case. The main argument for the anti-vaxxer movement is that it causes autism. Many studies have been done to find out if this was the case but there was no link between the two, despite the evidence the anti-vaxxer movement still won’t consider it. This same group likes to believe that vaccines are apart of some kind of government conspiracy and won’t get their child vaccinated. Some people are allergic to the ingredients of vaccines and when there are other people who are unvaccinated it puts them at a greater risk. In other cases there are beliefs that parents daughters shouldn’t get the HPV vaccine (which is given to 11-12 year old girls) because it may encourage sexual activity at a very young age even though lots of research done by pediatricians have shown that there is no correlation between the two. In poorer countries and/or third world countries surveys showed that their attitudes were a lot different to american parents. One difference is that more than 50% weren’t worried about it wouldn’t encourage sexual activity but instead were vastly worried about dirty needles at 82% and side effects of the vaccine which was surveyed at 77%.

Environmental Impact

Vaccines, although they help people fight off diseases, they can be harmful to the environment around us. There have been past occasions where either the manufacturing process, or the ingredients in the vaccines, have lead to ecological disasters. In 2006, vaccine manufacturer Merck was responsible for illegally discharging 25 gallons of a cyanide-containing chemical known as “potassium thiocyanate” ( a chemical compound that looks like white crystals) from its vaccine research pilot plant in Philadelphia into a sewer. This chemical eventually ended up leaking into the Wissahickon Creek killing about 1,000 fish. Now imagine if this had happened to somewhere like Lake Ontario or even the Atlantic Ocean, the amount of wildlife that would have been affected would be more than double. This is just one example there are many different examples of instances/ situations like this which proves that it is a big risk as far as environmental viewpoints are considered, especially with the pollution caused by the manufacturers as well.

Economic Impact

Immunization can have a powerful impact on economies big and small. Getting a child vaccinated helps them for the rest of not only their life, but everyone's. Vaccines allow you to live longer as they reduce the chance of catching a life threatening virus such as smallpox. The only illnesses those who are vaccinated catch aren’t very serious which in turn lowers healthcare costs for the family. This money saved could be saved for something like retirement or something like a child's tuition. If a child isn't vaccinated and catches a disease they may spend a lot of time in the hospital receiving treatment which may cause financial problems now or later in life. When children spend more time learning they land better jobs down the road as even one year of missed schooling lowers potential wage by 9.7%. which leads to countries becoming more economically stable. Vaccines decrease child mortality rates, 30-15% of Asia’s economic growth from 1965 to 1990 were due to the reductions in child mortality rates.


In conclusion, by looking at all of our facts we feel that vaccines have an overall positive impact on global health. Even though it may not have the facts from an environmental standpoint, we feel as though overall there is a good impact on global health. This is because even though there are different views/opinions on whether vaccines actually help have all been proven wrong and that there is no correlation to the proclamations of the anti-vaxxers. And as for an economic standpoint it helps a lot especially to people in countries that don’t have the health care benefits that we do here. It is way more cost effective to have your child vaccinated for a virus like chicken pox ahead of time, so that the family doesn’t have to pay extra money for treatments and things like antibiotics or medicine. As you can tell even though vaccines have a not so great effect when it comes to the environmental side of things they’re may not be some great things to say about it but these events far and few between and now with more advanced technology, especially in the healthcare area these incidents can be easily prevented in the future. This is why we feel as though there is an overall positive effect on the global health due to vaccines.



Created with images by NIAID - "Syringe and Vaccine" • jaytaix - "nurse syringe doctor" • PublicDomainPictures - "drugs stop vaccinations" • radical.librarian - "Smiles post vaccines!" • Myriams-Fotos - "syringe disposable syringe needle" • Ikusuki - "Vaccines"

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