Before school started this year, my son’s doctor said he needed a new vaccination. I didn’t question his advice.
In fact, I don’t even remember the name of the vaccine. I trusted the doctor, and I believe in the necessity of vaccinations.
“Sure,” I told the doctor. “That’s fine.”
Some parents would say I made a big mistake.
There’s a large and growing number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, believing the shots – widely trusted for decades – can be responsible for some ailments such as autism.
A new study shows that more than one in 10 parents reject or delay recommended vaccines by the time their child reaches 6. The survey of roughly 750 parents was published this month in the journal Pediatrics and reported on The Huffington Post.
The findings are in line with a federal survey of 17,000 households last year. It, too, showed that more than one in 10 toddlers and preschoolers lagged on vaccines such as chicken pox and the measles-mumps-rubella shot.
Personally, I think parents who refuse vaccinations are irresponsible and putting their children at risk. The parents may mean well, but they’re buying into an Internet-fueled distrust of vaccines.
Medical experts agree, frustrated about the spread of erroneous information and anecdotal horrors stories of negative reactions to vaccines.
Experts say some potential deadly diseases, such as whooping cough and the flu, can easily be prevented in infants with vaccines. And they reject the widespread contention that autism has been linked to vaccines.
“From being someone in the trenches seeing children die every year from influenza and its complications … I would not do a single thing to risk the health of my kids,” said Dr. Buddy Creech of Vanderbilt University’s Vaccine Research Program.
However, some parents reject such warnings.
“I have to make sure that my child is healthy, and I do not want to put medications in my child that I think are going to harm them,” said Kandace O’Neill, a Lakeville, Minn., mother.
She’s quoted in the Huffington Post article as saying her 5-year-old son has had no vaccinations since he turned 1, and her 7-month-old daughter has received none of the recommended shots.
By age 6, children should have received vaccinations against 14 diseases, the U.S. government advises.
But don’t try to persuade Mike Adams, editor of NaturalNews.com. His site rails against medical experts who recommend vaccinations.
“Here, you’ll learn how vaccines damage the immune system, how they cause asthma and allergic reactions, and why mandatory vaccination policies are a threat to human freedom,” Adams writes. “ If you want to learn even more about why modern medicine’s pushing of vaccines is actually a form of religious fanaticism (which has abandoned all scientific thought), read my related article, “The Flawed Theory Behind Vaccinations, and Why MMR Jabs Endanger Your Child’s Health.”
Adams is far from alone in his zealous opposition to vaccines for children.
“Unfortunately, the propaganda campaign for vaccination has been so successful that most of us automatically believe that vaccines are so effective they are responsible for the virtual eradication of serious childhood illnesses,” says author Jini Patel Thompson on the website HealingWell.com. “In reality, this is not so, and if you examine the actual rates of incidence for each disease (from reliable sources such as the Lancet, WHO and UNICEF), the graphs show a clearly different picture.”
Conspiracy theories can be tempting. Some parents simply want to believe that government officials, allegedly paid off by drug manufacturers, are brainwashing the public and endangering a generation children.
I’m reluctant to label parents who refuse vaccinations whackos. But I’m certainly tempted.
The vaccination debate is difficult because most of us, including me, want to preserve parental choice in as many areas as possible. At the same time, most parents are not medical experts. We have to defer to those who are on some critical health decisions, such as vaccinations.
“Over the past two centuries, vaccines have saved the lives of millions of children and completely or virtually eliminating once-deadly diseases around the world,” according to VaccineInformation.org. “ In recent years, however, some parents have begun to question whether the benefits of vaccines still outweigh their risks. They ask, ‘Are vaccines safe?” and “Are vaccines still necessary?’”
The site has video testimonials from a range of doctors who address misconceptions and fears about vaccinations. As a parent, I’m persuaded by this information.
The next time my son’s doctor recommends a vaccination for him, I’ll be even quicker to say yes.
Early in a child’s life, parents face a critical decision on immunizations. Do they believe decades and decades of medical research on the life-saving benefits of vaccines? Or do they believe a handful of people who recently started spreading hysteria about alleged dangers of vaccines? It’s an easy call for me.