Monday, May 5, 2014

Yes, vaccines do save lives

I encourage vaccinations. My three children received all recommended vaccinations. As an adult, I have received all recommended vaccinations and I try to keep them up-to-date. I did so and I continue to do so because they save lives. I refuse to watch or listen to celebrity moms who have become "experts" on any health issues, particularly the anti-vax celebrity moms.

When my children were young in the late 80s and early 90s, before anti-vax publicity really took hold, I remember saying to my husband that there was going to be trouble. While he and I remember what it was like to know children who did get the childhood diseases - or we got them ourselves - the fully vaccinated generation was heading into parenthood and they would probably not have seen the devastation that these diseases can cause.

It's unlikely that they'll meet a person who is hearing impaired or completely deaf because his or her mother was exposed to rubella (German measles) when she was pregnant with that child. It's unlikely that they know of children who were severely affected by the so-called "harmless" childhood illnesses. It's unlikely they know of someone who has lost a sibling or child to a preventable illness. And as such, many have no clue as to the damage these illnesses can actually do. I had mumps when I was a child. It was awful. I got through it without any lasting effects, but the boy I passed the mumps on to was not that lucky. He developed serious and painful complications that could have been avoided. My children all had the chicken pox when my five-year-old brought them home from kindergarten and then passed them to my three-year-old and one-year-old. The vaccine wasn't available yet. They were miserable and one was particularly ill. Why would anyone wish that on their child?

Autism is not something you want for your child. But with all the mounting evidence that the vaccines do not cause it, you would think that this myth would die down instead of keep growing. Are vaccines fool proof? No, they're not - and they don't claim to be. Some people who are vaccinated still may become ill, but often it is not as severe as it may have been otherwise. Do people have side effects? Yes, there are a few people who do experience side effects. But the number of lives saved by vaccines far, far, far outnumbers those who are affected by side effects.

I read of a pediatrician who does not recommend vaccines because she said it interferes with nature. Really? But then so does removing a ruptured appendix or a tumor. In vitro fertilization, pulling teeth, taking antibiotics - those are all "interfering with nature" if you're going to follow this physician's way of thinking.

I attended a health journalist conference in March, where the key note speaker, a physician, told us of a toddler in his ICU who was admitted just the week before. This toddler had not been vaccinated for childhood diseases. The parents rushed their child to the emergency room because she caught one of the "harmless childhood disease viruses." The child was saved, but was so brain damaged that she will likely never wake up.

Vaccinations are not a government plot to control everyone. They are not a pharmaceutical plot to make money (if so, they'd make you take more than one or two doses in your lifetime). They are lifesaving tools that aren't perfect. But they are what we have right now.


Tracey H said...

Brava! A topic that needs discussing and you've written about it well.

Lynne in Ottawa said...

What a fantastic article!! I am going to share it on my FB page. So well said.