Doctor Reputation

Vaccine Denial and a Physician's Reputation

Vaccine Denial and a Physician's Reputation

The vaccine debate has been around for a few years now. For those who don’t fully understand what vaccines are, they are components of microbes that we take, mostly during our childhood, in order to protect us from these microbes later on. These components may be part of a virus or synthesized in a lab. Sometimes a weakened version of the virus is used as a vaccine. These activate the immune system allowing it to recognize this pathogen so that later on in the future a response to an infection by that pathogen is quickly terminated. There are currently vaccines to tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, rotavirus, and many more.

There are various ways to receive these vaccines. The polio vaccine for instance has an oral and a parentral form. The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is taken intramuscularly. Each country has its own vaccination schedule and a list of obligatory vaccines which is based on prevalent diseases in that country. Some vaccines, however; such as polio have been used worldwide to the point where we were starting to think polio has been eradicated until the virus started appearing again in war ridden areas.

Recently some parents have decided not to vaccinate their children. What’s amazing is that some doctors have joined them in claiming vaccines are harmful to children as well. This all started when a doctor published an article in The Lancet linking vaccines to autism. Since that article was published in 1998, 7 different articles have been published in major medical journals that found no link between autism and vaccines. The Lancet itself has retracted the original article too. The idea is still out there unfortunately and it can result in serious harm not just to unvaccinated children but to the community as a whole.

First of all it’s important to realize that vaccines save the lives of our children. The United Nations have stated that vaccines save about 2.5 million children from preventable diseases every year. This equates to about 285 children per hour. The CDC also says that between 1994 and 2014 732,000 children were saved from death and over 320 million were saved from preventable diseases. These numbers can’t be estimated and quitting vaccines will result in their reversal.

Do vaccines cause side effects? Yes, they do just like any other medication. The rotavirus vaccine can cause a condition called intussusception where loops of the intestine basically enter each other. The chickenpox virus may cause pneumonia. The DPT vaccine may cause convulsions. It’s important to measure the benefits against the risks. The odds of these complications are very slight. Intussusceptions happen in one of every 20,000 children who have received the rotavirus vaccine. All of these conditions are also manageable. There’s no drug out there that has no side effects. Antibiotics can cause anaphylaxis and hemolytic anemia. They can even cause bone marrow depression. Steroids cause osteoporosis, glaucoma, cataract, and hypertension to name a few. If we’re going to avoid anything that has side effects then we might as well shut down pharmaceutical companies and look for natural remedies.

Another argument against vaccines is that they contain harmful elements such as aluminum, formaldehyde, and mercury. It’s important to think about the amounts and doses of these elements in vaccines. There is more aluminum in breast milk and infant formula than there is in vaccines. Should we stop breastfeeding as well? Most certainly not. Yes in excessive amounts these chemicals can harm our children, but they will not be exposed to these amounts through vaccines. One doctor states that children are exposed to more pathogens through their daily activities than they are through vaccines.

Vaccines are backed and completely supported by organizations such as the CDC, FDA, WHO, AMA, AAP, and UNICEF. One can hardly think of a more reliable source than these organizations. If vaccines were actually harmful then they would’ve been shut down by at least the FDA in the United States or the WHO. There’s no way something that causes harm to children is supported and highly encouraged by the most trusted medical organizations in the world.

As more people in a community receive a vaccine something called herd immunity starts to develop. This means that the entire community is protected because the majority is immune to a certain pathogen. If everyone is vaccinated against poliomyelitis then there is unlikely to be a polio outbreak in that community. This is beneficial to those who are unable to receive vaccines for reasons such as being immunodeficient. These people should not receive vaccines even though they are the ones who need them the most because getting infected will have much worse complications for them. They benefit most from herd immunity. In 2011 49 states in the US didn’t meet the required 92-94% herd immunity level for whooping cough. This caused an outbreak that affected over 40 thousand people.

Vaccines save money and time. If your child gets sick then you’re going to have to stay home to take care of them. This will result in you being absent from work which may affect your income. You’ll also spend money on doctor visits and medications. It can also be very worrying for parents to see their children suffer from a rash such as in rubella or measles. Fortunately there are vaccines for these which will keep your children healthy and save you time and money spent looking after them while they’re sick.

Pregnant women or women in their child bearing age in general should make sure they get vaccinated as well in case they haven’t already. A pregnant woman who gets rubella will be able to withstand it but it may have serious consequences for her baby. Rubella can cross the placenta and cause serious congenital malformations for a baby such as congenital heart disease, cataract, deafness, and mental disabilities. On the other hand, if a woman is vaccinated then she won’t have to worry about all that because she won’t get sick in the first place. She’ll also be able to pass antibodies to her baby that will protect him or her from that disease during the first 6 months of life.

Maybe vaccines shouldn’t be forced by the government in order to preserve the freedom of a population, but that population needs to realize the importance of vaccines and seek giving them to their children on their own. It’s like saying a government shouldn’t force its people to eat healthy. The difference is that what you eat only has an impact on you. By not choosing to get your child vaccinated you may be harming others and decreasing a community’s herd population. If so many people decide against vaccination to a level where others are being hurt in the process then maybe the government should start to interfere.

There are doctors who have joined the anti-vaccination trend which is very odd. Doctors who work in institutions who have declared that they’re against vaccines have been reprimanded by their workplace. Others in private practice, however; will have no consequences and may say whatever they want. They also make sure to have a stethoscope around their necks or to be wearing scrubs while making these claims in a video. Maybe they’re simply misinformed or maybe trying to gain popularity by being labeled as anti-vaccine doctors in order to get parents who are also against vaccines to go to them. That kind of behavior isn’t very professional and can result in harm to children who don’t get vaccinated because of them.

Vaccines are important to everyone everywhere. They have side effects just like any other drug. Even aspirin has side effects. It’s important to be informed and not follow any rising trend. All the leading medical organizations in the world are behind vaccines and the vast majority of doctors are too. If you believe vaccines are more harmful than beneficial then do some research and prove it, but until that happens it’s important to stick to what we currently have evidence for.