Is There a Reason NOT to Vaccinate Your Child?

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The simple answer is NO!!!

Because children still get vaccine-preventable diseases, it’s more important than ever to understand the benefits and risks of vaccination and vaccine-preventable diseases. You never know when your child may have been exposed to a disease or was immune to an exposure because of his/her vaccine-induced immunity.

Get your child vaccinated!

As the recent measles outbreak in parts of New York becomes more widespread, causing serious health consequences for unvaccinated children, their families and the hundreds of people who have come in contact with them, we at Westchester Health Pediatrics have become even more adamant about the importance of vaccinating your children, and yourself, against vaccine-preventable diseases. Protecting your child’s health is a responsibility for parents and their physicians.

What are the main vaccine-preventable diseases?

  • Pertussis
  • Tetanus
  • Polio
  • Chickenpox
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Meningitis
  • For a complete list of vaccine-preventable diseases, click here.

Measles, a disease that was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000, is making a comeback

Since the beginning of 2019, there has been a surge in the number of reported measles cases in the United States. Many of the outbreaks have been linked to unvaccinated Americans traveling to countries where the infection is more common and fewer people are vaccinated, and then returning to the U.S.

Why the resistance to vaccinating? A false belief that the measles vaccine could cause autism.

There is a lot of misinformation regarding vaccinations that has prompted some parents to decline vaccinating their child. Some specifically choose not to vaccinate against measles because they think there is a link between the measles vaccine and autism. Although this theory (known as the Wakefield study) has been disproven many times over, many parents still believe it.

However, a recent study by the Center for Disease Control supports the research stating that vaccines do not cause autism. 

In addition, a recently-published study of more than 600,000 children who were tracked for more than 10 years found no association between the measles vaccine and autism. The researchers stated in the Annals of Internal Medicine: “The study strongly supports that MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination.” For more details on this study, click here.

Interestingly, parents are now coming into our offices and asking for their children to get the MMR vaccine early, before 12 months old, because they are afraid of the current measles outbreak. Hopefully this large study with over 600,000 subjects will go a long way to further debunk the Wakefield study which only had 12 subjects.

Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in multi-dose vials of vaccines, has not been linked to autism either. In fact, in 2001 thimerosal was removed or reduced to small amounts in all childhood vaccines except for multi-dose vials. According to the CDC, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines do not and never did contain thimerosal; varicella (chickenpox), inactivated polio and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have also never contained thimerosal; and influenza (flu) vaccines are currently available in both thimerosal-containing (for multi-dose vaccine vials) and thimerosal-free versions.

We see vaccine-hesitant parents all the time in our practice

At Westchester Health Pediatrics when we encounter parents who don’t believe in immunizing their children, we do our best to take our time and help them understand that vaccinations are safe and effective. It’s easy for people to feel that it is ok not to vaccinate when they have never seen the devastating effects of measles, mumps and rubella due to the fact that these diseases were rarely seen in recent years because of herd immunity. When people make that choice, however, they not only put their own children at risk, but other children in the community as well, causing the numbers of measles cases to rise (as shown by this chart from the CDC).

Are vaccinations safe? Yes.

Before being approved, all vaccines administered in the U.S. must be tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA will not allow a vaccine to be given unless it has been proven to be safe and to actually work. Then this data is reviewed again by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Family Physicians before a vaccine is officially permitted to be administered.

The FDA also monitors where and how vaccines are made. Laboratories manufacturing vaccines must be licensed and are regularly inspected. Plus, each vaccine lot is safety-tested.

Herd immunity benefits all of us, which is why we should all get vaccinated, every year

Most vaccine-preventable diseases are spread from person to person. When an individual has been vaccinated for a particular disease, he/she is then immune to that disease and cannot infect others. The greater number of people who are vaccinated, the fewer opportunities there are for a disease to spread, and the entire community is less likely to get the disease, which is known as herd, or community, immunity.

When enough people are vaccinated, everyone — including those who are too young or too sick to be immunized — receives some protection from the spread of diseases, even those who are unvaccinated. That means that even people who don’t get vaccinated will have some protection from getting sick. Because of herd immunity, a disease can become rarer and rarer and sometimes, disappear altogether. And that, whenever it occurs, is a great thing. For a list of CDC recommended vaccines by age, click here.

What we’ve written on the subject of vaccinating

To learn more about the importance of immunizations:

Want to better understand vaccines? Talk to your pediatrician.

The topic of immunizations can be stressful and confusing. Your pediatrician can help you understand the importance of vaccinating, as well as the reasons why disease prevention is so important. And, this is not a one-sided discussion. It is your physician’s goal to help you as a parent make the best possible decision for your child to keep him/her healthy. At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we have years of experience helping parents take care of their children and we’re ready to help you with yours. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.Make an appt

By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP and Cindee J. Ivker, MD, FAAP, Lead Pediatric Physicians with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

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About the Author: ML Ball