The questions about childhood vaccinations beg for some answers, especially now. The recent epidemic of measles raises the topic once again. The questions regarding childhood vaccinations start during pregnancy. These are decisions to be made by parents soon after birth. Let’s talk about the usual reasons vaccinations are refused.
The development of autism secondary to the measle-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine has not been associated. A 1998 study from the U.K. suggested a link that was retracted in 2008 and subsequently shown to be fraudulent in 2011. Despite this the information still continues to circulate in some communities including the internet. Click Here for more info on this case.
Thimerosal (ethylmercury) used as a preservative in some vaccines was thought to cause neurologic impairment including autism. Numerous studies have refuted this but the myth continues to circulate.
Concerns regarding overwhelming the immune system with vaccines are not valid. The number of antigens to which children are exposed are much less than 30 years ago. Manufacturing advances and the discontinuation of the smallpox vaccine have decreased the antigens given. Vaccinated and unvaccinated children do not differ in their response to diseases for which there are no vaccines. There is not evidence of adverse events when exposure of children to multiple antigens. There is no association of neurologic or psychologic effect to vaccines.
Vaccines are not necessary. Many of the diseases prevented with vaccines have become very uncommon. We tend to have little knowledge of the serious effects of these diseases. For instance, the risk of obtaining generalized brain injury from measles is 1000 times more likely than any reaction to the vaccine itself.
When the vaccine rates drop to 90% or less the epidemics tend to occur. That is what we are seeing in Colorado currently. Each state has laws regarding vaccination for school attendance. There are allowances for exemptions based on medical, religious, and philosophical reasons. These have always been important preventive care guidelines. The medical community has stood by them. If you have concerns during your pregnancy, ask us.