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Your Child’s Pediatrician Is on Your Side
Immunization clinic remains crucial regardless of what the media says. The relevance of
childhood vaccinations has been relegated to the background by the antivaccination
propaganda, fueled in the mainstream and social media. Providing parents with
information on the significance of childhood immunization is becoming increasingly
difficult. Many parents are so confused even with the information received on provaccination claims because of the anti-vaccine claims which reduce and undermines
their confidence in the system (Luthy, Beckstrand, & Callister, 2010) These antivaccine campaigns are so influential that parents are made to feel guilty when they
allow their children to receive vaccines.
Parents, You are in Charge. Get Informed.
Parents have to understand that communicable diseases pose a potential threat to the
lives and wellbeing of children and immunization through vaccines have been very
successful in health promotion and illness prevention. The media propaganda on antivaccination has somehow pushed to parents believe that vaccines pose a greater risk
than the diseases they protect against. One of the popular misconceptions is that
vaccination causes autism. The Institute of Medicine has released at least 8 reviews
that showed there is no relationship between vaccination and autism (Luthy,
Beckstrand, & Callister, 2010). In this post, I will not discuss autism, but it is nice to
know that autism is a developmental disorder that affects the brain, manifesting as
inappropriate social interaction and communication. Autism is often diagnosed between
the ages of two and three years (Luthy, Beckstrand, & Callister, 2010). Sometimes the
early signs of developmental maladaptation or delay may be noted around the time of
some of the child’s primary immunizations and this in itself has fueled some of the
misconception, as anti-vaccine literature tries to link vaccination timing with diagnosis
timing and thus string together unrelated events.
Why Vaccinate My Child
Mothers you have carried your baby for approximately 40 weeks in the womb. The
moment the child is born, that protection the baby enjoyed while in the sterile womb of
the mother is gone. The baby is then exposed to the world full of bacteria and very
dangerous organism with the potential to cause harm to your child. Immunization is vital
to your child during the first two years of life (Luthy, Beckstrand, & Callister, 2010), and
older ages really since the immunity continues to evolve. It is common knowledge that
preventing a disease is easier than seeking cure. Protection through vaccination can
provide the much needed protection against diseases like Hepatitis B, which can lead to
liver failure and liver cancer and Chickenpox (Varicella).
The Diphtheria DTaP vaccine protects against three organisms:diphtheria, tetanus and
pertussis. Diphtheria is contracted through breathing contaminated air (droplet
infection) from an infected person, causing the inflammation of the pharyngeal passage
and neck glands. Secondary effects effects on the heart muscles can lead to heart
failure and death. With treatment, death in diphtheria is about 10% according to the
CDC while it approaches 50% if untreated. No parent wishes this for their child.
Pertussis DTaP vaccine protects against pertussis or whooping cough, which causes a
severe cough, runny nose, and a pause in breathing in infants. It can be fatal. You
can read more about it here. Tetanus, the other agent that the DTaP vaccine protects
against is also called lockjaw because of the severe spasms of the jaw muscles seen in
affected individuals. Exposure through cuts in the skin can lead to stiffness of the neck,
difficulty swallowing, muscle spasms, fever, broken bones (the bones break because
the muscles contract so forcefully that they break the patient’s own bones), breathing
difficulty and death. Tetanus is such a cruel illness because the patient is conscious
through the illness. It does not cause loss of consciousness per se, so the affected
patient goes through the agony alert, but suffering spasms continually at any form of
stimuli from noise, to sound to vibrations. It also leads to death usually by a metabolic
acidosis or aspiration pneumonia from the vomiting that the spasms may have caused.
Polio IPV vaccine protects against polio. Polio leads to paralysis and death if the
paralysis involves the respiratory muscles. That was why the Iron Lung was invented to
help children breath when they suffered such paralysis. It was seen as a major health
breakthrough until the vaccine was invented. Now those Iron Lung machines are found
in the museum and nobody has to be in them for months to stay alive because of polio.
The Pneumococcal PCV vaccine protects against pneumococcal pneumonia, an
infection of the lungs that threatens life in our youngest ones as well as the elderly.
Though pneumonia may be treated with antibiotics, its effects are devastating in
persons with suboptimal or developing immune systems. In fact, according to the CDC,
“…Since routine use of PCV7 for children began in the United States, rates of invasive
pneumococcal disease caused by the seven serotypes included in the vaccine have
declined by 99%…” .
Hepatitis A HepA vaccine protects against hepatitis A.It is contracted through direct
contact with contaminated food or water and can lead to liver failurew. The Influenza
(Flu) Flu vaccine protects against influenza infection. It is contracted by breathing
infected air, it leads to extreme fatigue and has been seen to cause death in children.
Measles MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Measles is
contracted by inhaling contaminated air (droplet infection) from an infected person.
Measles has severe respiratory as well as neurological effects that cause significant
immediate and long term damage in the affected person. It causes a type of giant cell
pneumonia that is difficult to treat because of the viral causative agent as well as the
severe inflammation associated with it. Invariably, these patients develop complications
with bacterial pneumonia and suffer hypoxemia for prolonged periods. The immunity of
affected individuals are often diminished, making them more difficult to treat and making
recovery a painful and arduous process for survivors. Other components of the MMR
vaccine protect against mumps infection and rubella infection. Mumps is also spread by
droplet and direct contact it results in swollen salivary glands and muscle pain. Rubella
on the other hand may cause minimal harm to the adult but is devastating to the unborn
child. If a pregnant mother who has no immunity were to contract rubella, it can damage
the brain, heart, eyes and kidneys of the unborn baby. If the mother does not have a
stillbirth or midtrimester abortion, then the offspring, often severely deformed suffers for
the rest of their lives.
This brief post should be a wake up call to parents who get carried away by conspiracy
theorists about immunizations and vaccines. These vaccines are needed and do a great
job at keeping us alive and healthy. While we know there has been an increase in
autism diagnosis in the last 15 to 20 years, we must not forget that correlation is not
causation. As a parents, you need to join your pediatrician and stand on the same side
as your children. These childhood diseases can be devastating. The eradication of
childhood communicable diseases is largely hinged on its effective prevention.
I urge you to vaccinate your child if there is no contraindication and save the nation from
the pain of a future epidemics like was experienced with influenza at the turn of the last
Luthy, K., Beckstrand, R., & Callister, L. (2010). Parental hesitation in immunizing
children in Utah. Public Health Nursing, 27(1), 25-31. doi:10.1111/j.15251446.2009.00823.x Retrieved
Here at Omega Pediatrics we have do not fire families that do not want to vaccinate
their children.It is, however, important for parents to know that the body of evidence
continues to increase and so is the intolerance of vaccine refusal especially among
communities and parents that have suffered dearly for a vaccine-preventable illness.
Feel free to call us to talk to a provider about vaccines or text VACCINE to 470-485
7337 for more information.