To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question. Or, at least that’s the hotly debated topic that has once again been put on center stage.
The reason for the current onslaught of media attention comes from President Obama’s recent push for parents to vaccinate their children. During an interview with NBC, the president said, “There is every reason to get vaccinated – there aren’t reasons to not.” He went on to say, “I just want people to know the facts and science and the information. And the fact is that a major success of our civilization is our ability to prevent disease that in the past have devastated folks. And measles is preventable.”
In regards to speaking specifically about the measles, we as a country are currently faced with a measles outbreak. And this is where the heads are butting. There are a certain percentage of parents that are choosing not to vaccinate their children – whether it’s for religious purposes, or due to a belief that vaccinations, specifically the MMR vaccination, can cause autism. And with this drop in vaccinations, diseases, like the measles, are re-emerging, creating a public health concern.
While we can certainly sympathize with those that are anti-vaccination because we know it’s fear and their concern for their children is what’s at the heart of their decision – we need to take a step back and look at the information, particularly if you’re a parent that’s on the fence about vaccinating your child. So here are some quick facts:
- The 1998 study that had originally linked autism to the MMR vaccine – and was published in The Lancet – was completely debunked. The Lancet retracted the study and the lead researcher on the study lost his medical license. There have been many thorough studies since, however, that have shown there is no relation between the MMR vaccine and autism. (Check out this article for more info on those studies.)
- With people opting-out of the MMR vaccine, measles is making a comeback. There were more than 600 cases of measles in the U.S. in 2014. And, already in January of this year, there have been about 100 cases. This is a disease that had once been declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000. (check out this article).
- Millions of lives have been saved by vaccines.
With all of that said, however, the question remains how much is the government able to put mandates on vaccinations – and if they do, what is the penalty for not complying. Also, most pediatricians follow standard vaccination schedules, which often groups vaccinations together (sometimes up to 4 or 5 at a time) during certain check-ups. Many parents are asking to alter the schedule with the idea of spreading the vaccinations out over time.
While the science is clear – vaccinations save lives – it’s an emotional debate that will likely continue, and in the end we all want what’s best for our children.
Someone who has a very personal, heartbreaking story to share on this topic is Roald Dahl, and we invite you to read his words here.
Lynsey, Community Manager