(I wrote this for school, and I feel very strongly about it. Found it in my files and figured why not post it. Everything is true save the the “credentials” I am a teenage girl not a doctor or parent, that was just part of the assignment, as was the Orange county presentation thing, I presented to my class, the rest is true though.)
Welcome parents of the Orange County PTSA. We are here tonight because you are concerned for the wellbeing of your children and the safety of the vaccinations they may receive, and I am here, not only as a fellow parent, but also as a pediatrician, to assure you that vaccinations are not only safe, but vital to your children’s health.
Now, there are a lot of fear mongering, though utterly false, rumors about vaccines. The prevailing one being that they cause autism. This has been entirely disproven by many, most notably the CDC. This rumor started with falsified research by a scientist named Andrew Wakefield, who has since been discredited. Wakefield published an article in 1998 claiming to have found a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The article has since been retracted along with many of Wakefield’s other works, and Wakefield has faced legal action, including the revocation of his medical license. Though this study was discredited over 18 years ago, it is still regarded as fact by those unaware of its origin. Inconceivably, Wakefield continues to advocate for his “vaccines cause autism” standpoint to this day, most notably by his recent releasing of a documentary entitled Vaxxed, sharing his experience with the MMR controversy.
I implore you to disregard this nonsense and get your children the MMR vaccine, despite Wakefield’s claims, it doesn’t give them autism, but it does protect them from the measles, mumps, and rubella, all of which can be fatal and were nearly eradicated in this country until a few years ago.
This brings me to the concept of herd immunity. You see, when a certain amount of the population is vaccinated, it not only protects the vaccinated individuals from the disease but those around them as well, such as immunocompromised adults and infants whose immune systems are so weak they cannot process the vaccine; this protection of unvaccinated individuals is herd immunity, though for herd immunity to be effective 90-95% of the population must be vaccinated or otherwise immune to the disease being inoculated against.
Herd immunity can’t stop every infection, but it does slow the spread of a contagion to a select few, mostly those who have not been vaccinated, rather than causing an epidemic, which is a widespread occurrence of a disease at once. With the rise of vaccination exemptions, herd immunity drops, and suddenly previously manageable diseases can spread like wildfire and cause epidemics like the recent measles epidemic originating from Disneyland here in Anaheim, California.
Many of you may be concerned about the chemicals in vaccines. You may have heard that vaccines contain mercury. But, the mercury in vaccines is only in trace amounts, used as a preservative of the inactive virus to not only make the vaccine last longer, but to decrease the use of live virus vaccines which run a much higher risk of infecting your child. The very thing that frightens you is the very thing that makes the vaccines safer. Long gone are the days of experimentally giving our children cowpox to prevent the infection of smallpox (both of which are caused by the rubella virus). We have the vaccine, its developed, tested, and safe. The only thing you have to worry about is when you’re going to bring the kids in for their shots. Birthday months are most common; a shot and a check up are a lot more pleasant than contracting chickenpox or the measles.
Measles is a disease we can vaccinate for, but can also be fatal. In this day and age, in this country, our children shouldn’t be dying of this disease because parents are frightened of vaccines. Yes, your child may be frightened; yes you may have reservations about vaccinations and their chemicals how they relate with your religious views.
So, let me tell you this, the chemicals are harmless, and even the Amish, who do without most modern convenience, allow for modern health care, including vaccines, there are no excuses. Educate yourself to assuage your fears. Yes, there are occasional side effects. Yes, children cry, kick and scream bloody murder at the sight of a shot. But in trying to protect your children, you are doing more harm than good. If they can be, vaccinate your children, you have no real excuse not to. A crying child is better than a dead one.