As a pediatrician, I deal with questions and concerns from parents regarding vaccines. Despite my best efforts, some patients will not receive the needed vaccines, thereby putting them at risk for serious illness and even death. Although I present the evidence that show the faulty link between the “MMR vaccine causes autism ” many parents still quote the various reasons of why vaccines cause more harm than good. They range from mercury to formaldehyde to risk of autism and seizure disorder.
I have parents of premature children who deny vaccines to these young newborns because they feel that the vaccines ‘will overwhelm their system.’ Unfortunately, these small infants will suffer the worst consequences of contracting a preventable disease. As everyone can see from the news as well as within many of our communities and local school systems, measles, once eradicated in our country, is back with a vengeance. And contrary to what many believe, it is simply not ‘just a rash.’
As a pediatric resident 15 years ago, I saw active measles and meningitis and the sequelae of polio, all here in the United States! As pediatricians, we follow a vaccination schedule guided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). I still remember taking care of a young toddler who had contracted measles and exposed an entire airplane full of people as well as our emergency department. While the City Department of Health had to contact other passengers, we were overall very lucky with only having one care of measles in the entire hospital. Unfortunately, the child who had contracted measles was not so lucky. He had a long protracted course with resulting measles keratitis, which adversely affected his vision.
Unfortunately, as false facts are propagated through social media, what many people don’t see are the harmful effects of this pseudo-science on our youngest victims: children and adolescents. And it not only affects our youngest patients, but adolescents and young adults too. There was another news report of a young woman, who had just started college, who contracted a virulent form of meningitis and ended up dying. That’s it, her short life cut short—by a PREVENTABLE disease.
I implore parents and caregivers, if you have questions/concerns about vaccines, please do not look to the internet. We, as physicians have gone to school for a lot longer than Dr. Google. Trust us as we care for the most precious things in your life: your children.