I love when kids come in for their well-checks and I get to tell them, “Guess what, no shots today!!” Unfortunately, that introduction is not always the case. Even though I wish all kids would happily trot into their pediatrician’s office without fear, vaccines are a standard of care in our line of work.
Vaccine education is a significant part of our visit when kids come in for their checkups. There are usually many questions surrounding the routine vaccine schedule, the number of vaccines, and possible deviations from that standard vaccine schedule.
Thankfully, many combination vaccines are available now, which decreases the number of injections your little one has to receive. But even with all of the medical advances in vaccines, the hundreds of years vaccines have been around, and the decrease in diseases we have seen, there is still a lot of fear surrounding vaccines.
Andrew Wakefield conducted one of the most well-known studies against vaccines in 1998 and showed a link between MMR and autism.1 The New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing a link between the vaccine, autism, and possible bowel disease. It caused a big uproar among parents and physicians. It led to many people refusing to vaccinate their kids against MMR. 12 years and many studies later, the article was discredited due to being flawed scientifically and ethically.2
Since then, a ton of research has been conducted on the MMR vaccine and its possible link to autism, and they found NO link between the two.3 But the damage was already done, and it was hard to convince parents that they do not have to be scared of vaccinating their 1-year-old kids against these very dangerous diseases. As a result, the United States went from declaring that measles had been eliminated to having a resurgence of measles in 2015 with the Disneyland outbreak.4
Thank goodness we live in an era where smallpox is something you only read about in books, and the consequences of polio seem like they only happen in third-world countries. But what we don’t realize is that these diseases are real. The fatalities from these diseases are real, and the protection these vaccines provide is REAL.
Always Discuss Your Concerns with Your Pediatrician
Of course, there are always special circumstances and considerations that may need to be considered with your particular child. You and your child’s pediatrician should discuss these things together and formulate a vaccination plan that works best for your family and your child. While your child’s chances of getting diseases such as measles, pertussis, or diphtheria might be low, you don’t want to risk leaving them unprotected should they be exposed to such illnesses.
We, as moms, are inherently over-protective of our children. The list of worries about them is pages long. So along with breastfeeding, making nutritious foods, ensuring they get their vitamins, and all the other things we bend over backward to ensure their health and happiness, please add vaccinating your children to that very important list.