Family medicine doctor Gretchen LaSalle, M.D. projects the soul of every primary care provider in the modern age of pediatric and adult medicine in her open letter to parents, published recently on her excellent blog:
Refusing to take a flu shot or staying updated with tetanus shots every ten years are decisions Dr. LaSalle can agree to disagree on with her adult patients, regarding their health. Adult parents making vaccine decisions for children, however, is another story altogether:
The good news about our children's future health is that the vast majority of parents in the United States accept the objective, scientific and medical facts that modern vaccines are highly effective in safely preventing diseases and premature deaths. In fact, when considering the remarkable medical advances over the last century that have positively impacted public health, increased longevity, and mercifully reduced human pain and suffering, vaccines rank right at the top. And while no medical practitioner alive today would ascribe perfection to any medical procedure, the fact is that modern immunizations are extraordinarily safe in preventing diseases that could arise again in our collective consciousness and public health statistics if we lower our guard and take for granted these modern medical miracles. Dr. LaSalle envisions the conversations that might occur if parents decide that vaccinating their children isn't right for them:
We don't hear much about these serious and devastating conditions because, with the exceptions of HPV-associated cervical and throat cancer, and influenza, most Americans are safely immunized and successfully protected against them. Early in my career, disseminated Haemophilus influenzae type B and pneumococcal infections commonly ravaged the bodies and brains and lives of infants and young children. With vaccines against those two pathogens now firmly established in the “gold standard” recommended pediatric immunization schedule, we hardly see their deadly manifestations anymore. Ditto all the other vaccine-preventable childhood diseases like polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps and rubella, and more - all rarely seen except in those isolated communities in the U.S. where vaccine refusal is above the threshold of “herd” protection. Younger physicians may never in their careers see a child or adult with any of these contagious horrors, so long as parents continue to make immunization decisions with proven benefits, based on facts and expert advice and not on fears and gossip online and on social media, which is where much of uninformed, anti-vaccination propaganda originates and now proliferates.
Will the fake experts and social media trolls win the day? Will Americans embrace logical fallacies and conspiracy theories over the evidence-based science that informs our reality? Not on Dr. LaSalle's watch:
Read the rest of Dr. Gretchen LaSalle's “An Open Letter to Parents Considering Not Vaccinating Their Children” here.
(Please note: Comments submitted from readers regarding vaccines are welcome here on The PediaBlog. However, comments from internet and social media trolls will not be published here, nor will contrary claims that are unaccompanied by verifiable, peer-reviewed science. False experts, cherry pickers, and conspiracy theorists who deny the value of vaccines in the modern world should expend their energies elsewhere.)
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