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Ethical case studies

Jenna and Chris Smith are the proud parents of Ana, a 5–day–old baby girl born without complications at
Community Hospital. Since delivery, the parents have bonded well with Ana and express their desire to raise
her as naturally as possible. For the Smiths, this means breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months,
making their own baby food using pureed organic foods, and not allowing Ana to be vaccinated.
The Smiths are college educated and explain they have researched vaccines and decided the potential harms
caused by them far outweigh any benefits. They point to the rise in autism rates as proof of the unforeseen risk
of vaccines. Their new pediatrician, Dr. Angela Kerr, listens intently to the Smiths’ description of their research,
including online mommy–blogs that detail how vaccines may have caused autism in many children. The Smiths
conclude by resolutely stating they’ve decided not to vaccinate Ana, despite the recommendations of the
medical community.
Dr. Kerr begins by stating that while vaccines have certainly sparked controversy in recent years, she strongly
recommends that Ana become fully vaccinated. Dr. Kerr explains that vaccines have saved the lives of millions
of children worldwide and have been largely responsible for decreases in child mortality over the past century.
For example, the decreased incidence of infection with the potentially fatal Haemophilus influenzae type b, has
resulted from routine immunization against that bacterium. Similarly, epidemics such as the recent outbreak of
measles are usually associated with individuals who have not been vaccinated against that pathogen.
Dr. Kerr goes on to endorse the general safety of vaccines by informing Ana’s parents that safety profiles of
vaccines are updated regularly through data sources such as the federal government’s Vaccine Adverse Event
Reporting System (VAERS). The VAERS, a nationwide vaccine safety surveillance program sponsored by the
Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is accessible to the public
at This system allows transparency for vaccine safety by encouraging the public
and healthcare providers to report adverse reactions to vaccines and enables the federal government to
monitor their safety. No vaccine has been proven casual for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or any
developmental disorder. On the contrary, many studies have shown that vaccines containing thimerasol, an
ingredient once thought to cause autism, do not increase the risk of ASD.
Finally, Dr. Kerr reminds the Smiths that some children in the general population have weakened immune
systems because of genetic diseases or cancer treatment, for example. It may not be medically feasible to
vaccinate such children. Other children are too young to receive certain immunizations. Instead, these children
are protected because almost all other children (and adults) have been vaccinated and this decreases their
exposure to vaccine–preventable illnesses (VPIs). This epidemiological concept is known as “herd immunity.”
As more parents refuse immunization for their healthy children, however, the rate of VPIs will increase. This
puts vulnerable children at significant risk of morbidity and mortality. Routine childhood immunization
contributes significantly to the health of the general public, both by providing a direct benefit to those who are
vaccinated and by protecting others via herd immunity. Dr. Kerr concludes by stating that after considering the
risks versus the benefits of immunization, most states require vaccinations before children can attend school.
Parents may decide not to vaccinate under specific circumstances, however, which vary by state.
Jenna and Chris Smith confirm their understanding of what Dr. Kerr has explained, but restate that they do not
want Ana vaccinated at this time. Dr. Kerr is perplexed as to what to do.
Access the Ethical Case Studies media piece to review the case studies you will be using for this assessment.
Select the case most closely related to your area of interest and use it to complete the assessment.
Note: The case study may not supply all of the information you need. In such cases, you should consider a
variety of possibilities and infer potential conclusions. However, please be sure to identify any assumptions or
speculations you make.
Include the selected case study in your reference list, using proper APA style and format. Refer to the Evidence
and APA section of the Writing Center for guidance.
Summarize the facts in a case study and use the three components of an ethical decision-making model to
analyze an ethical problem or issue and the factors that contributed to it.
Identify which case study you selected and briefly summarize the facts surrounding it. Identify the problem or
issue that presents an ethical dilemma or challenge and describe that dilemma or challenge.
Identify who is involved or affected by the ethical problem or issue.
Access the Ethical Decision-Making Model media piece and use the three components of the ethical decisionmaking model (moral awareness, moral judgment, and ethical behavior) to analyze the ethical issues.
Apply the three components outlined in the Ethical Decision-Making Model media.
Analyze the factors that contributed to the ethical problem or issue identified in the case study.
Describe the factors that contributed to the problem or issue and explain how they contributed.