Immunization Safety: Evaluating Science vs. Opinion
If you’ve watched TV, opened a magazine, or talked with friends lately,
you’ve likely heard at least a few opinions on the vaccine debate,
many of which are accompanied by very personal anecdotes. Some of the
information can be very scary, and it’s understandable that parents
are a bit wary of the childhood immunization schedule! But before you
make a decision about vaccinating your children, I implore you to do some
research on the matter. Not just any research – good, disciplined
research from credible sources backed by science and fact. Sounds intimidating?
Allow me to provide you with some tips and resources to make your investigation
a little less daunting:
Talk to your pediatrician: You trust your pediatrician to care for your child when he or she is sick
and to give you advice on a variety of childrearing topics, right? Then
why not trust your pediatrician’s knowledge about vaccines? I encourage
you to have an open dialog with your child’s doctor if you have
concerns. Schedule some time with your pediatrician to go over any specific
fears about immunizations, articles you’ve read, and advice you’ve
received. He or she can help you evaluate this information and guide you
in the right direction. An excellent time to do this is during a complimentary
prenatal consultation with your chosen pediatrician – this way,
you will have the information you need and have your questions answered
well in advance.
Evaluate the source of the information: Who runs the websites you are consulting and where they get their information
is very important. Is it backed by scientific studies and evidence? Look
for references or supporting research that backs what the person is saying.
Or is it more anecdotal observations and opinions? This type of information
is often accompanied by very personal and convincing, albeit biased, stories.
Look to the bottom of this page for good websites to peruse for credible
Learn about the diseases: Most of the diseases against which we immunize are quite rare in the US
now, and very few parents have seen the devastation they can cause. I
find that educating yourself on the various vaccine-preventable diseases
is a good reminder of just how necessary vaccines are. Many pediatricians
have seen children tragically affected by pertussis or Haemophilus influenzae
meningitis, but most parents have not. This is another reason we so strongly
support the vaccination schedule as it is.
The majority of parents actually do vaccinate their children according
to the schedule recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics
and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The parents who choose
“alternative” vaccine schedules or not to vaccinate at all
are not as many as some would lead you to believe. By forming a partnership
with your pediatrician and consulting good, credible resources to get
answers to your questions, I think you will feel reassured and positive
that you are doing the best thing for your child by vaccinating them fully
and on time.
This blog is the first in a series of immunization safety articles. We
hope you check back regularly for more updates! In the meantime, here
are some websites that I highly recommend you check out: