There’s No Debate: VaccinateThere’s been a lot of recent media attention centered on the so-called 'vaccination debate,’ a term that Virtua pediatrician Eric Dorn, MD, considers a misnomer. “Simply put, there aren’t two viable, educated sides to the matter,” he says. “Vaccines are safe, and they save lives.”
Responding to MisinformationOne small, fraudulent study published in the late ‘90s led many people to believe that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. As this misinformation circulated over the past 15 years, some parents began to distrust vaccines altogether, and other false claims took root.
“Some of my patients’ parents, for example, are also under the misconceived notion that these vaccines are some kind of attack on their immune system,” says Dr. Dorn. “That’s just not true. Unfortunately, many people are misinformed.”
As to the rumored autism link, a study published in the medical journal Vaccine analyzed the data of 10 other major studies on this topic. Collectively, these studies involved well over one million children. The results were as clear-cut as the article’s title: “Vaccines are not associated with autism.”
Read more about this study.
Dealing with Disease ResurgenceAs misinformation has spread, declining vaccination rates have led to a resurgence of many previously controlled childhood diseases.
“Measles and whooping cough (pertussis) are two diseases that are coming back now,” says Dr. Dorn. “And a major problem is, babies aren’t vaccinated against pertussis until 2 months, or measles until 1 year. Babies are the most vulnerable to these diseases.”
Deciding not to vaccinate a child, in other words, not only puts that child at risk, but also increases the risk to other young and vulnerable people in the child’s community. Complications that can arise from both measles and pertussis can be fatal, warns Dr. Dorn. Measles can cause swelling of the brain; pertussis can cause apnea leading to respiratory failure.
“Parents who choose not to vaccinate, or unnecessarily delay vaccines, are acting against their child’s and the public’s best interests,” he says.
Following the Recommended ScheduleThe Centers for Disease Control offer this at-a-glance PDF vaccine schedule for children from birth through age 18.
Unless your child is immunocompromised in some way (for example, if they are undergoing chemotherapy or have a medical condition that affects their immune system), there is no medical reason to skip or delay any of the recommended vaccines.
Even in the immunocompromised, Dr. Dorn points out that the decision to skip or delay any given vaccine should only be decided by a doctor on a case-by-case basis.
For all other healthy children? There’s no debate: Vaccinate!
“It’s so important, so safe, and so obviously the best choice,” says Dr. Dorn.
“Bottom line, as a pediatrician, my job is to ensure your child’s health. The number one way I can do that is by vaccinating your baby.”
Updated June 6, 2016