Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Not Vaccinating Your Child: A Public Health Concern

 [Actually, I do believe the content of this blog post is the position of the US government as well as that of the World Health Organization, but let's just pretend it's just my little rant.]

I am a fan of public health. I mean who isn’t right? Who doesn’t want each and every one of us to live long healthy happy lives? So it irks me when there is blatant disregard for public health under the guise of individual freedom. Now I’m talking about parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated. Despite pediatric immunizations preventing 3 million deaths in children each year worldwide, some parents continue to refuse immunizations for their children.

I am drawing at straws here as to why someone would put their children at risk but maybe the parents of these helpless children are at an age where they didn’t have any personal exposure to the devastating effects of polio or measles. This then leads to a lack of appreciation for their importance. 

 From what I’ve read Measles is like an immune system amnesia and can wipe out someone’s immune system(for example if someone has chicken pox they usually are immune to repeated exposure, but immunity seems to be erased if the child has Measles). And I am all for choosing how you parent your children but there are rules in places to prevent physical child abuse like spanking so why not for an even larger health concern. Still not buying it?

A part of me wants to respond by saying:  Well don’t bring your kids to school then. There are some kiddos who for medical reasons cannot get immunized and they rely on all their peers to get immunized so they don’t get sick. You choosing not to immunize your child because of poor information jeopardizes their health as well as your own child’s. And certainly don’t expect tax payers to take care of your sick child who will most than likely grow up into a sick adult.

That’s right. Not vaccinating your child can result in life-long effects.  The immune system response in children who have had measles is delayed into adulthood. Furthermore, the Adverse Childhood Experience study has looked at childhood exposure to chronic stress and found it can predict everything from developing diabetes and heart disease to depression and suicide. Think that nearly dying from a preventable disease is stressful? Yep. Life-long impact.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I have ever swayed a passionate argument by being critical of others as this will typically result in doubling down and hunkering in their ideological corner. Far better to expose parents to the research and information available out there and have them make the decision for themselves. One study concluded that “Many commonly held beliefs about the risks of immunization are not supported by available data, and they frequently originate from the unsupported claims of organizations that are critical of immunization.” We as health care providers and consumers certainly could stand to do a better job providing a non-judgmental argument for why not vaccinating your child not only impacts her health but that of her classmates and the public in general.

But it may not be your choice much longer anyway. Compulsory immunization laws in the United States have been upheld repeatedly and may take the choice out of your hands entirely. And you are lucky to live in a country that gives the mother any control.

Side-Bar- Mothers in Guyana after three cesarean section deliveries are in essence forced to become sterilized because they are deemed high-risk. My first reaction was horror. After giving it thought, if this is what keeps mother and children alive, then maybe it is worth it.  But then it occurred to me that c-sections are fairly subjective in regard to who needs one especially in Guyana where some doctors will do it to decrease infant mortality rate reporting. That’s great for the stats, but what about the mother? Limited to three children due to the whim of the doctor is worrisome. Especially if the doctor makes a stereotypical judgment call based on race or religion. For example, maybe Guyana can cull the Muslim population simply by performing higher rates of c-sections in this population. I’m not saying that this happens, only that it could happen. And that is the slippery aspect of this slope.

Okay! Back to educating yourself at the risk you put your child and society by not immunizing.

Please read more:

And here is some data from the World Health Organization on Measles:
Key facts
  •        Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
  •          In 2014, there were 114,900 measles deaths globally – about 314 deaths every day or 13 deaths every hour.
  •     Measles vaccination resulted in a 79% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2014 worldwide.
  •          In 2014, about 85% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000.
  •          During 2000-2014, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 17.1 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.

Still not convinced? I get it you must just not like science. And for you I suggest you watch this video by the vlog brothers rebuffing arguments about global warming.

Until next time,


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