Why I am a complete vaccine supporter
We are at the end of National Infant Immunization Week, and I’ve decided I can hold out no longer. I am coming to the confessional to raise my right hand and say, I am a vaccine supporter! There, I said it. I am not a “some vaccines” supporter, or a “sometimes vaccines” supporter or even a “partial vaccines” supporter. I am clearly stating this now, since it has come to my attention that I may not have been clear in the past. I want all my patients to know that, with very rare exception, I would like them to be fully immunized, on time, according to the Centers for Disease Control Recommended Immunization Schedule 2016.
I spend many hours discussing vaccines in my office with parents. I am there to answer questions, calm fears, and make recommendations. I rather enjoy this part of my job. I feel satisfied and proud when I send a child out, protected against a vaccine-preventable disease, and I feel like vaccinating our kids is a personal choice with moral and ethical implications. My own children are vaccinated, fully and on time. I am vaccinated, too.
I think it is important that parents understand how passionately I believe in vaccination as part of the overall health of their children. Parents need to feel that I am confident that I am following the best scientific information available when I ask them to vaccinate. They need to be comfortable bringing all questions to me regarding their decision. I want them to know that I view vaccination as important as using a car seat when in a car, as having a pool fence around their pools, and as wearing a helmet when on a bike (or scooter, or skateboard!).
Vaccines work. They prevent the diseases that were killers just a few decades ago. They decrease the need for painful medical intervention every time an infant has a fever. They decrease the number of children with cancer, diabetes, or weakened immune systems that used to die when measles, chicken pox, and mumps were common. They decrease the number of courses of antibiotics children today will take before age 18. Worldwide, they save hundreds of thousands of children under the age of 5 from dying of dehydration due to the rotavirus every year.
This week, National Infant Immunization Week, and every day, I will remind my patients to vaccinate fully and on time. I encourage anyone who is hesitant to have a long, heartfelt discussion with your pediatrician so that you feel comfortable doing the same.