Saturday, February 28, 2015

Vaccinations and Chronic Conditions

The recent measles outbreak is making vaccination a very popular topic, particularly where I live- Vermont is viewed as one of the states where people are least likely to vaccinate children. While my kids’ schools have close to 100% vaccination rates, there are places with rates of about 50%.

The anti vaccination movement centers on two prominent ideas. The first dates back to a 1998 English study linking the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism in young children. While the study was quickly discredited and repeatedly refuted, the damage was done. Vaccination rates plummeted below the “herd” immunity levels and as a result outbreaks of measles have not only reappeared in England but now in the United States.

Another popular idea is that by vaccinating children you are setting them up for chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes. However, large scientific studies do not support these claims. "Anecdotal reports and uncontrolled studies have proposed that vaccines may cause particular allergic or autoimmune diseases, Such reports have led some parents to delay or withhold vaccinations for their children. This is very unfortunate, because the best available scientific evidence does not support the idea that vaccines cause chronic diseases. Scientific studies have shown, however, that reducing vaccination rates lead to increases in preventable infectious diseases." Pediatrics A second study, completed in 2014 found similar results The researchers found high-quality evidence that several different vaccines are not linked to childhood leukemia and that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is not linked to autism. The DTaP vaccine is not linked to diabetes mellitus, and the Hepatitis B vaccine is not connected to multiple sclerosis - Scope 

Some parents opt out of a vaccine believing that since the “other kids” are vaccinated their child will be protected by the "herd." Not surprisingly Vermont had a major outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) several years ago because many parents in the state refused the P in the DTP vaccine for their child.

We have become complacent in having a life expectancy of almost 80 years of age, with few reminders of what parents were dealing with as recently as 60 some years ago with polio. Keep in mind that without the array of vaccines that exist today, our life expectancy would be considerably lower.

Are there risks with vaccines? Yes, but they are very rare and easily treated. Pediatrics

There are risks with everything but the risk from an infectious disease is far greater than a vaccine. For a graphic display of that risk, watch Penn and Teller’s explanation. Better yet, ask an 80+ year old parent how they felt when they had the opportunity to vaccinate their child against polio.

Simply put, if you have a chronic condition, you really don’t want to run the risk of coming in contact with an infectious disease. So “cut to the chase”

• If you have kids, make sure they are vaccinated properly

• Discuss your need for vaccinations (pneumonia, shingles etc.) based on age and condition with your medical provider and act accordingly. For adult immunizations check out the following links:

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