Thursday, October 22, 2009

"An Epidemic of Fear"

I was just reading my nerdy husband's Wired magazine and this article caught my eye:

The article is well-written and well-researched. Any issue is always better publicized when there are groups adamant about both sides, and the Jenny-McCarthy-vaccine-autism group is quite vocal, if slightly misinformed. Their questions and accusations can prompt vaccine makers to re-evaluate the safety of their product and hopefully create vaccines with fewer and safer preservatives, etc.

However, the un-vaccinated children out there are only protected by the children who are vaccinated. We seem to think that some diseases have just "gone away" because this is America and we are not a third-world nation. But in fact, "In certain parts of the U.S., vaccination rates have dropped so low that occurrences of some children's diseases are approaching pre-vaccine levels for he first time ever." You and I may not have encountered polio face-to-face, but if this anti-vaccine trend continues, our own children may see the same disfiguring diseases that our grandparents did.

You might think that when kids start to die from previously "rare" diseases, parents would jump on the vaccine bandwagon again. Not so! There have been recent, fatal cases of meningitis in un-vaccinated children in Pennsylvania and Minnesota and parents continue to opt-out of routine childhood vaccinations. We're not talking about seasonal flu shots here.

If your newborn gets pertussis (whooping cough) there is a 1% chance that the baby will die of pulmonary hypertension or other complications. That may seem like small odds, until it's your baby coughing so hard that he or she turns blue. But those odds are unnecessary when no study has linked DTaP (the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine) to death in children.

I'll let you read the whole article to get a better idea of what I'm so clumsily and inadequately summarizing here. But I will leave you with this quote: "Nobody in the pro-vaccine camp [myself included] asserts that vaccines are risk-free, but the risks are minute in comparison to the alternative."

P.S. I have asthma and a history or bizarre illnesses that tend to occur in elderly populations (shingles, C. diff, to name a few). I absolutely get the flu shot every year, I got the DTaP vaccine last year when Pertussis was going around the JPS ER, and I plan to get the H1N1 vaccine in the next few weeks since I work with premature infants with compromised immune systems. And look, Mom, no autism!

*Disclaimer: Autism is a very serious spectrum of mental illness and in no way do I want to discredit mothers who are concerned about the well-being of their children. However, I do not personally believe that vaccinations cause autism. Also, if you're allergic to eggs or any other ingredient in a vaccine, of course you should say "no"! But in such cases, you would ideally gain some protection from certain diseases by virtue of your vaccinated peers.

1 comment:

  1. I am also pro-vaccination. More benefits than risks if you ask me. Wish you were working in the hospital where I will deliver. Know any good nurses at Harris HEB? Love the nurse hat, Therese! :)