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The Ongoing Vaccination Debate
Although experts and the vast majority of Americans argue that refusing to vaccinate a child leaves everyone at risk of contracting once-shunned diseases, more and more parents are choosing not to vaccinate for reasons such as:
Thinking the shots are unnecessary.
Fear of health risks, especially autism.
Too much trouble?
Too much is given.
On this last subject, to tell the truth, by the age of six, a child will have been ‘shot’ about 24 times – and that is too much for worried parents. So is the fact that, as Barbara Lee Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, reports: “U.S. health officials now recommend 69 doses of 16 vaccines for every child. States mandate up to 15 of the two up to 30 years ago.” That alone gives many people pause.
As for the fear factor, we have to go back to 1998 and British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield. At the time, his claim that there was a link between the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and autism was published in The Lancetand spiraled from there.
Largely ignored was the fact that he had interviewed the parents of only 12 children, a research flaw visited on those in the know. But that didn’t deter the press or the many parents who followed his conclusions — and so the damage was done. Until 2010, when The Lancet he withdrew his paper and the UK General Medical Council revoked his medical licence, it was too late to undo the damage he had caused.
Indeed, now often referred to as the “autism guru,” Wakefield continues to have a following.
Then there’s the celebrity factor with the likes of Jenny McCarthy, a former Playboy model also co-hosting Stand out and gave advice as a columnist. On top of that, last July 15, she was hired as a co-host The viewlending credence to her position that vaccines are linked to autism in children, including her now 11-year-old son.
yearJames Poniewozik called the move “bad media practice”.
He goes on to write that, “Vaccine scaremongering… spreads a belief that is empirically wrong, disproved by study after study. And vaccine fear doesn’t just harm children whose parents opt out of vaccinations, but others children, as well as immunocompromised adults, threatening the herd immunity we rely on to protect the larger population.”
Pushing back, too, is the jennymccarthybodycount website which presents the following data from June 3, 2007 to April 5, 2014:
Number of preventable diseases: 130,730
Number of preventable deaths: 1,381
# of autism diagnoses scientifically linked to vaccinations: 0
That, too, should give us pause.
Meanwhile, last year in California alone, 14,921 preschoolers were left unprotected. so far this year the states have seen 49 cases of measles. Meanwhile, more than 4.5% of kindergartners in Illinois, Michigan, Oregon and Vermont were not vaccinated for non-medical reasons. Such conditions are now considered potential disease “hotspots”.
And the result; This USA Today The front-page headline says it all: “Deadly Diseases Return: Cases Show Anti-Vaccine Trends.” In fact, according to the CDC:
The number of measles cases increased from 55 in 2012 to 189 in 2013.
So far this year, 49 cases of measles have been reported in California alone.
So far this year, 115 measles cases have been reported across the country.
In 2012, 24,231 cases of whooping cough were reported across the country.
In 2012, 480 cases of meningitis were reported, as well as 75 deaths.
Measles is estimated to infect 3 times more people now than in 2009.
Despite these upward trends, reality star Kristin Cavallari says not vaccinating was “the best decision” for her children. Meanwhile, Kim Hart, a mother of two from California, goes so far as to say, “As a parent, I’d rather be dealing with my kids dealing with measles or mumps and sitting with them in a hospital… than i take your chances. one shot and it has irreversible effects.”
This, of course, is an interesting take on the matter, given that being unprotected can also have lasting and dire consequences. Take, for example, Jeremiah Mitchell who, at the age of six, was stricken with meningitis. Yes, he survived, but only because doctors amputated his arms and legs, along with parts of his eyelids, jaw and ears.
As for measles, says Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s director of immunizations and respiratory diseases, “We don’t really want a child to die from measles, but it’s almost inevitable.”
Remember: Measles used to kill about 450 children each year.
And who is more vulnerable? Infants too young to be vaccinated, children with weakened immune systems and those who have not been vaccinated for medical reasons. Also at risk: The children of people like Ms. Cavallari who chose to keep their children unprotected.
Meanwhile, vaccines are also imperative for us adults, for the sake of ourselves and that “herd” with whom we communicate in our daily lives. At the top of the must-have list:
Annual flu shot
TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) – a one-time vaccine even after a tetanus booster in the last 10 years
HPV (human papillomavirus) – a one-time series of 3 shots: 2 shots, 4 to 8 weeks apart and a booster 6 months later.
Hepatitis Ba single 3-shot series: 2 shots 4 weeks apart & a booster 6 months later.
Bottom line: Get your kids all their shots, then add yourself to that vaccination list. I dont regret.
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