Let’s make this clear- I am a physician and believe without a doubt that vaccines are a good thing. I have not yet fired any patient for refusal to vaccinate, and if a parent is willing to vaccinate but to do it under an alternate schedule, I am willing to work with them. I think there is little value in alienating someone who is not anti-vaccine, but maybe can we decrease the shots in one setting. While I am fully going to discuss the reasoning for the shots, the potential complications, and the risks and complications of each vaccine, those who merely want to space vaccines, and they are keeping their child out of the public area, well maybe it is worth working with them.
However, I fully believe that the risk from the polio vaccine is substantially less than the risk of catching polio itself. However, because of the decreased risk, of polio in this country we have changed from the more effective but more potential side effects of the oral polio vaccine to the injection which is slightly less effective and definitely safer.
I have read the study which was manipulated to link autism to the MMR vaccine, and more specifically the thiorisal that was a preservative, and I know the difference between ethyl mercury and methyl mercury, and find that tuna fish is much more risky, and the incidence of autism really increased not due to the vaccine but more likely due to the widening of inclusion criteria. And I have a son who was showing the signs before he ever received a vaccine, much as I tried to both ignore it and deny it at the time.
And yet, the last 2 weeks, I have seen three cases of chicken pox. And unlike MRSA, it took me longer than an instant to identify it. The kids seen have either been vaccinated or too young to be vaccinated. So these are not faults of their parents, but of society. The one vaccinated, well had a mild case, the one too young, well it is a wait and see. I had it as a baby, and don’t remember it. The previous case that I saw was 18 months ago, in a child that had received his booster less than 2 weeks prior. While not expected, not uncommon, but these not so much.
The recent outbreak of measles in Indianapolis, those opposed to vaccines point to it being a harmless childhood disease, but when does a harmless disease have the potential to deafen a child. And mumps is worse, since it can leave a male sterile. And unfortunately it may take longer to diagnose due to most of the current crop of young physicians have not seen a case in real life. As the vaccination rate of MMR continues to drop farther down, (we have never reached projected herd immunity rate of 90-95%), chances of a measles epidemic continues to increase. And what caring parent wants to see their child suffer, and many of those who did suffer from measles remember it as being painful and definitely uncomfortable.
A couple of years ago there was a shortage of Heamophilus Influenzae B vaccine, and the incidence increased tremendously in babies, which made it difficult for children to breath several children did die due to lack of vaccination, and unfortunately that is probably what is going to be required for some parents to realize just how harmful measles can potentially be. There has been an increase in incidence in whooping cough, which has led to a recommendation for adults and adolescence to receive a TDaP instead of the previously recommended Td. Why? Because the CDC realized if you could remove the carrier state from adolescents, parents and grandparents, maybe transmission would decrease to the most vulnerable among us. And isn’t that possibly the most important reason any parent could have for vaccination, protection of their youth and the future generation. As an adult whooping cough is annoying, a cough that lasts about 100 days, as a baby it is sad and heart breaking.
There are legitimate reasons to not vaccinate some children. Some have conditions, that would make it dangerous to vaccinate. Some that have to rely on herd immunity, so much for protecting the vulnerable. While I realize it is up to every parent to look at the risks and decide what is best for their child, you must understand that the risks are small, 1 in 1,000,000, 1 in 100,000, and while if you are that 1 none of those ratios matter, for the vast majority, there is little to no risk for vaccination. Occasionally, there is infiltration of the injection site, there are fevers and there are occasionally allergic reactions. And all of these risks are there, but infiltration of the injection site is mild, and fevers occur throughout childhood. But they are not and should not be used as excuses to not protect your children and even more important those with congenital heart defects, those too young for vaccinations, and others with legitimate reasons preventing their vaccines.
Vaccinations help save lives. The success of vaccines have led to their biggest challenges, people don’t see these diseases as threats anymore and therefore undervalue the vaccines. This has led to increase in diseases that aren’t seen anymore, and physicians, who no longer see these diseases regularly, have to go and look again, and remember what was only supposed to be a text book picture. So protect yourself, protect your baby, and protect those that cannot vaccinate. Follow immunization schedules and keep our most precious safe and healthy