Why We Vaccinate
We Believe in Vaccinating All Children
We are well aware of the celebrities who have implicated that vaccines are the cause of various childhood conditions. Autism is a terrible disease and no person who hasn’t walked in the shoes of a parent of a child with autism has a right to comment about the thoughts and feelings of such parents. But as providers, we do a terrible disservice to our patients and to society if we allow emotion and passion to sway what should be a rational decision. In all other areas of medicine, decisions are made by the scientific method. Studies are published in peer reviewed journals and given recognition based on the quality of the research presented. To date, there have been dozens of outstanding studies that have shown no relationship between any vaccine and autism or any other childhood disease or condition. And those studies have looked at millions of children over many decades.
Scientists, physicians, and nurse practitioners are cautious individuals by nature and by training. When patients and their families ask us if it 100% impossible for vaccines to cause autism, the answer is ‘no' because human beings can never answer anything with 100% certainty. But ask the same question about amoxicillin as a treatment for strep throat. Is amoxicillin 100% safe in the treatment of strep throat and the answer once again is ‘no' because all medications have been associated with side effects. For that matter, when providers tell a parent that their child has a ‘virus', we are often asked if we are 100% sure that it is not meningitis. The answer here too, is ‘no'. Medicine is never about certainty. Rather, it is about probability. And while the probability that vaccines cause autism is near 0%, the probability is near 100% that if we stop vaccinating children, there will be a huge upsurge in childhood deaths.
Vaccines Prevent Disease
Let's first look at the vaccine preventable disease rate in the US where vaccines are regularly provided. In 2012, there were 48,277 cases of whooping cough and 20 deaths. Unfortunately cases were much less 10 years ago when more children were vaccinated, only 2670 cases in 2003. In the 1950s, there were 550,000 cases of measles and 459 deaths per year. So while most U.S. children are still receiving vaccines, what would the healthcare system in the US look like without vaccination? We need only look to Africa where modern vaccines are not routinely available to see what would happen. Annually, it is estimated that whooping cough causes 170,000 deaths on the continent and measles is so prevalent that it kills one child every minute. Annually, in Africa, there are over 1,000,000 (yes, that is the correct number of zeros) children under 5 who die of pneumococcal disease almost all of which could be prevented by vaccination with the Prevnar vaccine which is routinely administered in this country.
We believe that vaccines are one of the greatest medical advancements of all time. We cannot go back to the bad old days just a few decades ago in this country, when kids were dying by the tens of thousands of diseases that are completely preventable with today's common vaccines. We cannot throw out 40 years of progress because of a few high profile television cases as sad as they are. As parents, you should be demanding that we adhere to the highest standards of medical research as we help you maintain the health of your children. And so, we stand up with integrity and support the positions of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by stating unequivocally, that we are proud of the safety record and champion the universal use of vaccines for all children!