The vaccination debate has been raging over the last several years. As I write this, it is important to know I do not write this blog to creat debate or ill feelings from either side. I wish only to provide one health care provider’s view of the issues surrounding vaccinations. From a mother standpoint, I have friends who choose to vaccinate their children, and those who do not. Our friendships do not hinge on this debate.
The Centers for Disease Control state that perhaps the greatest success story in public health is the reduction of infectious diseases resulting from the use of vaccines. Routine immunization has eradicated smallpox from the globe and led to the near elimination of wild polio virus. Vaccines have reduced some preventable infectious diseases to an all-time low, and now few people experience the devastating effects of measles, pertussis, and other illnesses. Prior to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vaccines are tested extensively by scientists to ensure they are effective and safe. Vaccines are the best defense we have against infectious diseases; however, no vaccine is 100% safe or effective. Differences in the way individual immune systems react to a vaccine account for rare occasions when people are not protected following immunization or when they experience side effects.
Because we live in an era basically free of childhood disease, thankfully we have not seen the devastating effects and deaths that occurred as a result of communicable disease – we have seemingly become immune to the idea that it was these vaccinations that have led the fight in the eradication. Simply put, we have not watched as children suffered and, ultimately died from diseases like: measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diptheria, tetanus, pertussis. I am thankful for this, and thus the reason I advocate wholeheartedly for vaccinations.
In order for a vaccination to be placed on the market, studies are done in three phases. It takes on average about 10 years for a vaccination to be released for public use. Health care providers advocate their use not because they are getting a “kick-back” from vaccination companies, actually it is expensive and time-consuming to provide vaccinations in an office setting. Health care providers advocate for vaccinations because they lead in the fight of keeping children healthy from communicable diseases.
It is important to note that numerous research has proven that vaccinations do not cause autism. Autism typically becomes apparent around the age of 1-3, when children are beginning to talk and communicate. It is around this age that the MMR vaccination (measles, mumps and rubella) is given. Therefore, the linking had been associated between the two, but no valid research can support this.
Thimerosol is a mercury-containing additive that is placed in vaccination as a preservative for multi-dose vials. Single dose vials, which are the only vaccinations I use in my clinic are, in fact, thimerosol-free. This is a question that can be asked of your child’s health care provider. Since 2001, no new vaccine licensed by the FDA for use in children has contained thimerosal as a preservative, and all vaccines routinely recommended by CDC for children younger than 6 years of age have been thimerosal–free.
As a parent, we strive to make the best possible choices in how are children are protected and cared for. We would never allow our children to play in the street, or do anything we know could harm them. Vaccination are safe, and I advocate every day for children to be vaccinated against communicable diseases that can ultimately can kill.
Brett B. Snodgrass is a nurse practitioner who blogs at The NP Mom.
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