Vaccines – The Truth Comes Out

A parent’s most basic instinct is to protect their child. Often times when facing life altering decisions for our children we are inundated with conflicting information, as in the case of vaccines.

The question of whether to vaccinate or not is one of the first major decisions you will make for your child. In recent years, vaccines have been surrounded by controversy, causing many parents to give pause.

The fear and debate surrounding vaccines, concerning the issues of vaccine safety have been addressed by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization, and vaccines have been officially declared safe once more.

“There are rare side effects to vaccines, and we monitor them closely; however, they are not nearly as common as the adverse effects from the disease itself. Deafness, paralysis and death are all side effects of common vaccine preventable childhood diseases,” said Dr. Patricia Emmanuel of USF Health Pediatrics.

How Did Vaccines Become the Enemy?

Vaccines became suspect when an article condemning the use of vaccines was published in 1997. The article was published in the British Journal The Lancet. The article blamed the MMR vaccine for the rise in autism.

The article has since been discredited and consequently the physician in question responsible for the article lost his license due to financial conflict of interest, ethical violations, and significant procedural oversights.

The fallout from the article – which fostered the idea that vaccines caused autism, raised concerns all over the globe about the safety of immunizations, and many parents were torn as whether to vaccinate or not vaccinate.

“There is a lot of misinformation about vaccines, and it can be difficult to sort through, “said Dr. Emmanuel. “It is important to seek out reputable sources of information such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC.”

The anti-vaxx movement has brought out the reemergence of diseases once thought to be eradicated. Measles, whopping cough, and outbreaks of other illness once erased, have resurfaced in recent years.

The Value of Vaccinations

Vaccinations have contributed to abolishing diseases all over the world. Diseases that once spread like wild fire, endangering the health and wellbeing of not just one person but entire communities had been eradicated. These illnesses such as measles, mumps, etc. do have the potential to resurface when person who has not been inoculated comes in contact with the disease and develops the illness.

Vaccinations Around the Globe

When people who have traveled internationally are infected then come in contact with the general population, they have the potential to create an outbreak. The state of Florida being a tourism state is a particularly vulnerable: we are a tourism state with major ports of entry and an influx of international travelers. If traveling internationally, speak with your doctor about any necessary vaccinations.

“In order for vaccines to protect our communities and our most vulnerable members, we need to establish herd immunity. This is when a critical number of people are immunized, usually around 90%, which prevents diseases from becoming outbreaks,” said Dr. Emmanuel. “When too few are vaccinated diseases are allowed to spread and propagate.”

Who Is In Harm’s Way

Those who chose not to vaccinate not only put themselves and their loved ones at risk, but also certain groups who are more susceptible to succumbing to disease:

• Children who have not had the time or opportunity to be fully vaccinated
• Cancer Patients
• People with compromised immune systems
• Different vaccines have different levels of effectiveness, for example – measles 99%, known as whooping cough 80-85%
• People who have immune suppression disorders and cannot be vaccinated
• People living with HIV/AIDS
• Those who are receiving transplants and receiving immunosuppressive therapy
• Pregnant women

“Vaccines are one of the greatest achievements of this past century. There are many diseases such as polio and measles where our young physicians have never seen a case. We should not go backwards due to fear,” said Dr. Emmanuel.

For an appointment at USF Health Pediatrics call 813 259-8700.

Written by Ercilia Colón

USF Health Making Life Better

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