Should I vaccinate my child?

 

Yes, yes, yes. 

There are many deadly diseases we can’t prevent, but we do have the power to prevent a few. We now have the ability to prevent your children from getting some types of bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, and overwhelming blood infections. With vaccines we can prevent cases of mental retardation, paralysis, blindness, deafness, and brain infections. Immunizations are a safe way of boosting children’s natural immune systems. Yet some of our parents continue to doubt the benefits of vaccines and to fear harm from them.

Let’s look at another kind of prevention.  You would never drive your car without putting a seat belt on your child. Even if you don’t know anyone who was in a fatal car accident, you still buckle you and your child up. You may know a kid who emerged from a car accident with only a scrape, yet you still buckle you and your child up. 

You may never know a child who is paralyzed by polio or who died of whooping cough, but it does happen and can be prevented. Just like with car accidents, it’s better to prevent the injury than to play catch-up later. Dr. Kardos’s grandfather routinely rode in the front seat of his car without his seat belt because he “had a feeling” the seat belt might trap him in the car during an accident. Never mind that epidemiologists and emergency room doctors have shown people are much more likely to die in a car accident if they are not wearing a seat belts, he just “had a feeling.”

When it comes to your children, parental instinct is a powerful force. We routinely invite our patients’ parents to call us about their children if their instincts tell them something might be wrong, and we always welcome and at times rely on parents’ impressions of their children’s illnesses to help us make a diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan.

However, in the face of overwhelming evidence of safety and benefits of vaccines,  we pediatricians despair when we see parents playing Russian roulette with their babies by not vaccinating or by delaying vaccinations. We hope fervently that these unprotected children do not contract a preventable debilitating or fatal disease that we all could have prevented through immunizations.

There is no conspiracy here. We both vaccinate our own children. We would never recommend any intervention where the potential for harm outweighs the potential for good. We have valid scientific data that every year vaccines save thousands of lives. One of them could be your child’s life.

Should you vaccinate your child?

YES!

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
©2011 Two Peds in a Pod®

Visit these posts for more information about vaccines:
How Vaccines Work, Evaluating Vaccine Sites on the Internet, and Closure: there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism

Also, please visit  the recent Institute of Medicine’s analysis of vaccine side effects.

 

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5 Comments

  • Reply MWLB MD October 20, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Absolutely. Immunizations save lives. People forget that parents begged to let their children receive the Salk polio vaccine even before it had been tested.

  • Reply Dr.Brian Lebovitz October 21, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Absolutely. Well said. There is as of now, no proven danger from vaccinating your child. There are large numbers of studies showing increased morbidity and mortality without vaccinations. This is NOT one of those lifestyle choices, like “I prefer waiting for positive cultures before prescribing antibiotics.”

  • Reply Olga Pasick October 31, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    I lost my 13 year old son to a potentially vaccine preventable disease – meningococcal disease.It hurts so much… don’t let it happen to you. Vaccinate your kids. Visit http://www.nmaus.org for more info.

  • Reply Lillianna December 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    this was a terrible article

  • Reply Amy Espeseth December 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Lillianna, If you mean “terribly important” then I agree. Its frightening to me to see diseases like measles and whooping cough making a comeback because parents are opting not to vaccinate their kids. It will be great when polio and other vaccine preventable diseases are finally eliminated, but until then people need to keep vaccinating, both for the sake of their own children and for general public health. Thanks Drs Kardos and Lai for another great article on this topic!

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