Family Vaccinations

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Why is your aunt not getting your little nephew vaccinated? And why won’t other family members allow them to visit because of it? Can you help your family clear with this argument? Can you help bring them back together?


You are just making yourself comfortable on

Child with mumps with swollen lymph glands in neck
Child infected with the mumps virus and showing swollen lymph glands in the neck and face. Image:

the sofa with a large bowl of popcorn that should see you through your debate class homework when the evening news begins. Your parents watch it every night and you know that soon their nightly “debate” will begin—your mom is liberal and your dad is conservative.  So they say. To you, they are both conservative.

You tune them out and your headphones help a lot with that when something catches your attention. You pull your headphones off just in time to hear about an outbreak of measles. The outbreak was spreading. Was this the same type of thing that you heard about last year when a disease called “mumps” was going around some college campuses near you?  It seemed like a bizarre type of disease at the time and you had asked your parents about it. You had never heard of anyone getting mumps before and it didn’t sound like something you wanted to get. People with mumps have face pain, fever, headache, sore throats, and swelling of the glands in the neck and face!

Your parents had told you that you won’t get mumps because you had been immunized against it. Relieved, you hadn’t thought about it again.

Child with typical measles rash. Content Provider: CDC. Image:

Now, people were getting measles? The news report went on to say that the outbreak was caused in part because people were choosing not to get vaccinated. Your mom said that your Aunt Jenny has not had your little nephew vaccinated and that your Aunt Becky may not let him come around your new baby niece.  Now, you’re shocked. You didn’t think anything would interfere

with family get-togethers.  And what’s going to happen to your after- school and weekend baby-sitting jobs if you can’t have the babies together when your aunts are working?

Even worse, your extended family is apparently taking sides. Some of your relatives want everyone immunized against everything; others don’t want to vaccinate at all or they want to delay vaccinations. From your mom and dad’s conversation, things are getting tense. You don’t want this to cause problems in your family. You don’t see what the problem is anyway.

Your mom goes on to say that you are due for another immunization, but she’s not sure she wants you to have it based on what Aunt Jenny is saying. Maybe you can wait for a few years to get it.

Your parents also say that your school district may be changing its policy on immunizations. With everything that in the news lately, more people might not get their children immunized.

What is going on?

You decide that you are going to use this controversy as the topic you need for your speech/debate class homework. The assignment is to pick a current and relevant issue, present one side of the issue, and be prepared to respond accurately and persuasively to questions and challenges from the audience—the rest of the class and your teacher.

Given that you know that the issue is causing problems in your own family and that your school system is thinking about a possible vaccination policy change, you are sure that this topic is both current and relevant.

Guiding Questions  

  1. Which side of this topic will you present? Are you for people getting immunized to protect them from disease or are you against it?
  2. Why are vaccines important to the prevention of disease? How does a vaccine prevent disease?
  3. Why would your aunt not immunize your nephew? What is the controversy about vaccinations?
  4. Why does your Aunt Becky not want your nephew around her baby?
  5. How does herd immunity protect children who cannot get immunized because of a health problem or children who are too young to be immunized?
  6. If your school district changes its policies about immunizations and allows more parents to opt out of getting their children immunized, how might that affect disease rates in your community and in your school?
  7. How would you feel about a change in the immunization schedule if it eliminates immunization requirements?
  8. What is the solution to your family’s problem?