There’s something very scary happening in our world today. Well, there’s many scary things, but what I’m going to talk about is that vaccination rates are dipping. In Canada in the spring of 2013 our immunization rate was 84%, which is below the goal of 95% to protect our communities from vaccine-preventable deadly diseases. In Alberta where I live, our goal is even higher as we aim for a 98% immunization rate. The anti-vaccine movement is along the same lines and the anti-GMO movement. Why do people distrust science so much? Letting seeds of doubt planted by internet memes, hoaxes, and conspiracy theories get watered and allowed to grow and overshadow scientific evidence. They think that this is a government conspiracy theory and it truly is so much like the anti-GMO movement, just replace big ag with big pharma. About 29% of deaths in children 1-59 months of age are vaccine preventable. That right there is my big problem – when someone chooses to not vaccinate their child, they are therefore putting my children at risk, especially my baby. Did you know that the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine is not administered until children are 12 months old? That’s 1 whole year of susceptibility to these deadly diseases.
These Diseases are NOT Gone
I think that, especially the non-vaccinating population, takes for granted what our grandparents and great-grandparents went through and assume that these are “old” diseases and they believe they are a “thing of the past”, so why bother vaccinating if they’re gone anyway? Such is not the case and these diseases are not eradicated. Just last week a case of measles has been confirmed not 2 hours from where we live from a teenager who brought it back from a trip to the Netherlands. Within a week the number of confirmed cases is at 13 and on week 2 that number was 19 and it was just confirmed that all 19 people who contracted measles had NOT been vaccinated. The number of cases is guaranteed to grow bigger as measles is a highly contagious disease. Did you know the virus is air borne and it lives for 2 hours in the air that we have no choice but to breathe? A big part of the problem is that by trying to make informed decisions, many parents are seeking Dr. Google and turning to social media to help guide their decision making regarding vaccination. A recent study has found that “if more than 25 per cent of a parent’s social circle recommended not conforming to the vaccination schedule, ‘the parent was going to opt out in one way or another.'” Are you letting Facebook make your decisions on whether or not to vaccinate your children and when?
Yes, vaccinations can absolutely cause side-effects. Nothing can ever be proven 100% safe, that is a fact of life (and science!). You get in a vehicle and there’s no guarantee you won’t get into an accident that day. Just because you use various methods of birth control, doesn’t mean that unexpected pregnancies won’t happen. We just can’t prove anything to be 100% guaranteed to work and keep us safe (see what I’m getting at here?). The risks of being immunized are minimal and the most common side-effects of vaccinations are a sore arm and mild fever. Vaccines are very safe. Very serious health events post-immunization are extremely rare and are carefully monitored and investigated. WHO states that “you are far more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine.” For example, in the case of polio, the disease can cause paralysis, measles can cause encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and blindness, and some vaccine-preventable diseases can even result in death. While any serious injury or death caused by vaccines is one too many, the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risk, and many, many more injuries and deaths would occur without vaccines. It is literally 1 in 1 million deaths from the MMR vaccine vs. 1 in 1000-2000 deaths from the actual disease. This seems to be the most-feared vaccine as it was thought to be correlated to the cause of autism and autism spectrum disorders, however as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, that doctor’s research has been debunked and discredited (along with future health advice from Jenny McCarthy hopefully!).
This is our son Ethan 10 days post MMRV vaccine. He had a mild fever and this rash on his trunk. With confirmed cases of measles nearby I would much rather see him have these mild side effects than a full-blown case of measles that could potentially kill him.
I am a nurse, if you didn’t pick up on that by now, and I am 100% pro-vaccination. I am also pro on-time vaccinations vs. delayed or self-scheduled vaccinations. I feel this way because this is what has been researched and tested by the government and health authorities worldwide to be approved, recommended, and the most effective way to administer vaccines. It’s actually been researched that delaying the measles vaccine can have increased risk of adverse effects. I am not here to push anyone to vaccinate on-time, I am happy that these children are still being vaccinated, but it has not been proven that “overloading” a child’s body with multiple vaccines is harmful to their immune systems, which was a concern of some on my blog’s Facebook page. Again – I’m not here to argue with you about your delayed vaccination schedule – I’m just happy that your children are getting vaccinated! But some food for thought from WHO is:
Scientific evidence shows that giving several vaccines at the same time has no adverse effect on a child’s immune system. Children are exposed to several hundred foreign substances that trigger an immune response every day. The simple act of eating food introduces new antigens into the body, and numerous bacteria live in the mouth and nose. A child is exposed to far more antigens from a common cold or sore throat than they are from vaccines.
It’s selfish of me to say this, I know. Perhaps I should rephrase this paragraph: Please Consider Vaccinating. I think there is a lot of fear and misconception out there as to why people don’t vaccinate, but just know that if you decide, for whatever reason, not to vaccinate your children (and yourselves) you are putting extremely vulnerable populations at risk. Among the most vulnerable population are babies aged 6-12 months for measles as immunity from their vaccinated mothers wears off by 6 months. Babies don’t get their vaccine for measles until they are 12 months old. That means that there’s a lot of defenseless babies in the Lethbridge area right now because they are too young to be immunized and there is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease in a community with a strong anti-vaccination group. Not only are babies at high-risk, but so are young children, people who have immune-suppressed systems from diseases like cancer, and the elderly. I know there’s too many parenting/mommy wars out there right now, but this is one ‘parenting’ issue that I’m willing to take a stand for, as your parenting choices can potentially affect my children’s health in the worst way possible. Please make an educated and informed decision regarding your choice to vaccinate or not.
Disclosure: I am a health professional but this post is written from my views as a mother and blogger and my opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer. All opinions on this blog are my own and this is not a sponsored post.