The providers at After Hours Pediatrics want our patients to know where we stand regarding childhood immunizations and the ongoing controversy regarding possible injury from them.
We believe that immunizations are the single most important medical intervention for children. They are as important in the United States as they are anywhere in the world. The modern program to immunize American children has done more to decrease illness and save lives than any other intervention in the last 50 years. Despite our success, though, only one illness (smallpox) has been eliminated through immunizations. Every other illness for which we immunize children remains a threat. These illnesses are held in check only because we continue to actively immunize our children.
We strongly believe that the claims of an association between immunizations and autism are completely false. Several mechanisms by which immunizations might cause autism have been proposed. In each instance, further investigation has shown the proposed theory of causation to be false. Furthermore, no study has shown that children who are immunized are more likely to develop autism than those who are not. Thoughtful scientists and pediatricians have difficulty understanding why someone would even suggest that immunizations cause autism. Why use a completely false premise to discourage people from accessing the most important preventive health benefit available to children?
As more and more parents choose not to immunize their children the risk to your child becomes even greater. Recent outbreaks in New Mexico of both measles and pertussis are reminders that the protective effect of ‘herd immunity’ is diminishing and the risk of serious preventable illness is increasing. As a result, it is even more important to immunize your child today than it would have been 15 years ago.
We respect that people make health care decisions based on feelings as well as facts. And we understand that many people have feelings about immunizations that they’ve acquired from non-factual information spread by the media and reinforced by celebrities. We cannot tell you that you MUST immunize your child. We think it is our duty, however, to tell you that you SHOULD immunize your child. We believe that parents who choose to avoid immunizations are making a poor decision based on feelings, not facts. We absolutely disagree with that decision.
If you want more information about immunizations, please ask your pediatrician.