CHILDREN’S VACCINATIONS: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Children’s vaccinations have been around for ages. When they were first introduced, parents rejoiced—there was finally a solution for the many diseases going around that were capable of killing children.
Due to amazing health advances, death rates for 13 diseases that can be prevented by childhood vaccinations were at all-time lows in the United States in 2007. The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at hospital and death records going back to 1900 and estimated death rates before various vaccines were invented. In nine of the diseases, rates of hospitalization or death had declined more than 90 percent. For three — smallpox, diphtheria and polio — death rates had dropped by 100 percent. Pretty good, huh?
However, no drug is 100 percent foolproof. The measles vaccine, for example, is only 95 percent effective—which if I’m not mistaken, is better than 0 percent. As with any drug, there’s always side-effects, which can range from mild, such as pain and fever, to severe, such as encephalitis (inflammation, irritation and swelling of the brain).
But children who aren’t vaccinated are at risk to serious illnesses. Last month in San Diego, there was a rare outbreak of measles, 12 of the children infected becoming very sick. The 12 kids that got sick were not given the vaccine that increases the chances that children would not be infected by the diseases, wither because their parents objected given their children the shot, or because the child was too young to have it given to them.
Some parents, like the 12 talked about in the San Diego, are scared that their children will be one of the few that will suffer from the severe side effects, and refuse to let their children receive vaccinations. Rumors, like the one that says several vaccines that include thimerosal, a mercury antifungal vaccine preservative, cause autism, scare parents even more.
Theresa Cedillo claims her daughter’s autism was caused by a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine she received when she was 15 months old. Cedillo said her daughter was a “happy, engaged toddler” who could talk and respond when her name was called. Now at 13 years old, Michelle is still wearing diapers, looking at picture books, and enjoys watching Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues. (Read the full story here.)
Michelle’s parents said that after their daughter received the vaccine, her mental development was drastically altered, and days after getting the vaccination suffered from mild complications. Michelle later stopped talking and responding to her name.
The Cedillos are one of 4,900 families suing the government, claiming that the vaccine causes their child’s autism.
So who’s right? The thousands of parents who say, “Yes, that vaccine made my child develop autism!” or the scientists who say, “No. Studies show that there is not a link to children’s vaccinations and autism.”?
The Institute of Medicine cites five studies, all of which find no link between autism and the preservative thimerosal and 14 studies finding no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
But those studies still aren’t enough to sway the beliefs of parents. What parents must realize is that when it comes to vaccinations, the good outweighs the bad, and just like there is a possibility that children will be bullied at school, there is a possibility that children may suffer from vaccination’s side effects.
No parent wants to believe that genetics may have played a part in their children’s lack of mental development, but it’s true. And instead of resisting the facts, and doubting scientific studies, parents must embrace technological advances and the usefulness of health knowledge and methods of disease prevention.
Filed under: death, immunizations, infant medicine, medicine, vaccinations | 50 Comments
Tags: autism, Cedillo, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children's vaccinations, immunizations, Institute of Medicine, measles, mental development, MMR, mumps, rubella, San Diego, vaccine