As parents and caregivers, we all want to take the safest steps for our children, and that includes regulating the chemicals that go into their bodies. However, a culture of fear has given vaccines a bad rap.
Celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy have been at the forefront of the anti-vaccination movement, claiming that vaccines result in children developing autism, among other conditions. This belief took hold after the publication of a 1998 study, which is now discredited by the World Health Organization and whose primary author is no longer licensed to practice medicine.
What has been proven as fact, however, is that measles, polio, rubella, mumps and whooping cough are among childhood diseases that are much less common thanks to the development of vaccines to immunize children against them.
“Research shows that vaccines are safe and effective,” says Sean O’Leary, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado. “The risks of not vaccinating far outweigh the negligible risk of reacting to the vaccine. For example, while polio is no longer found in the United States, it is still only a plane ride away.”
Science, not fiction
Despite the lingering fears some parents have regarding vaccines, they are wholly unjustified.
“It’s not a question that the vast majority of people who study vaccines and understand the science behind them immunize their own children,” Dr. O’Leary said. “Vaccinations are among the safest medical interventions we have, and they are a great gift we have to protect our children’s health.”
Have questions about vaccinating your child? Contact the Colorado Immunization Coalition at 720-777-5340 or visit their website at childrensimmunization.org.