In my last few blog posts I have been tackling a lot of controversial issues and I guess that’s what I’m here for, because this entry is no exception. Ms. Jenny McCarthy was recently announced as a new co-host on The View. She has voiced very controversial views about childhood vaccinations and why she thinks kids shouldn’t get them.
Ms. McCarthy’s child has autism, which she feels was caused by vaccinations. Several large studies in the U.K. and the U.S. have shown that there is absolutely no correlation between vaccines, primarily the MMR vaccine, and autism.
Furthermore the author of the study claiming to establish a link between vaccines and autism, Mr. Wakefield (notice I don’t refer to him as Doctor Wakefield) has had his U.K. medical license revoked after his study’s results and design were discredited. Since Mr. Wakefield’s claim was made, there have been outbreaks of measles in the U.K. due to folks not vaccinating their children.
We have also had outbreaks of diseases in the U.S. from decreasing vaccination rates in some parts of the country. History has shown that the introduction of safe and effective vaccines, coupled with immunization policies emphasizing universal infant immunization, have reduced disease incidence and related deaths from some serious childhood infectious diseases by more than 90%.
Future vaccines will continue to focus on the newborn and infant populations, which are still very vulnerable to potentially vaccine-preventable illnesses. I authored a study in the Journal of Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics in which I surveyed new parents across the country regarding their knowledge of vaccine preventable illnesses such as polio and HIB meningitis. HIB meningitis killed thousands of babies before the late 1980s and because of a vaccine, many doctors haven’t even seen this disease in the last 12 years let alone have a patient die from it.
Most of the parents that I surveyed have never taken care of a child who has suffered from a vaccine preventable illness. Furthermore, they have never even known anyone who had any of these diseases. Vaccines have made this awesome luxury possible! I ask patients, “When is the last time you saw somebody with polio?” They invariably say “Never.” I then ask, “Do you think that it’s because somebody invented hand sanitizer or because people all of a sudden started washing their hands? Nope, it’s because of vaccines!”
They chuckle because they realize at that moment exactly what I mean. Without vaccination and sanitation the United States would be a very different place. It comes down to this: You must do the research and consult with your physician when deciding about health issues that affect you and your family.