Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vaccine Misinformation

There have been a number of stories in the media for the past few years about the vaccine conflict. The pro-vaccine group is all for vaccinations and wants to ensure the entire population is immune to diseases like diphtheria and pertussis. The anti-vaccine group believes that vaccines are bad and cause problems, like autism. If you are considering vaccinations for yourself, or your children, I strongly suggest discussing your concerns with your doctor. There is a lot of misinformation and fear mongering out there that distract people from the facts.

The truth is that vaccines are not 100% safe, but wait!!!!...Nothing really can be 100% safe. Even drinking water can be dangerous...if you suddenly lose coordination of your swallowing reflex...water could get into your lungs, and you could drown, but does that mean you're going to run off to the Sahara and never drink anything...ever? No, of course not. Obviously the vaccination issue is a much more complex issue than drinking water, but we all need to realize that many good ideas/important activities come with associated risks. Just remember, we need to weigh those risks against the potential benefits gained.

I recently spoke with a friend who has hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). A very infection disease caused by a virus. She got HFMD from her little cousin who was recently vaccinated for MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella). Her cousin picked up the HFMD a few days after receiving the vaccination. Now her entire family believes that the MMR vaccination directly gave this little boy HFMD. That didn't happen! Measles, mumps, rubella, and HFMD are all different diseases. The MMR vaccine does NOT contain HFMD virus. The MMR vaccine could not have directly infected this boy with HFMD! It didn't happen! To get HFMD the boy needed to come into contact with the HFMD virus. Please consider the possibility that getting HFMD shortly after the vaccination was a coincidence, not causation! If a child is vaccinated and then gets straight A's on his report card, you shouldn't assume that the vaccine made him smarter! (Well, you could...because if the vaccine prevented him from being sick...he probably went to class more...leading to him learning more...resulting in the good report card...)

It is the media frenzy attacking vaccinations that is causing people to fear irrationally. I'm not discouraging caution, but I am encouraging critical thinking. As I mentioned earlier, if you are considering vaccinations for you or your child, discuss your concerns with your doctor. You don't just have to take your doc's word either, you can ask your doctor to provide you with evidence. There have been many studies looking at the effects of vaccinations.

Just in case you come across peer reviewed articles written by Dr. Andrew Wakefield claiming that MMR vaccines are linked to autism...please check out this article, which states that the link between MMR vaccination and autism is extremely unlikely and that Dr. Wakefield's work is being discredited.

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