One of the more frequently asked questions by parents concerns vaccinations. Over the past few years there has been a great deal of attention given to the debate over vaccinations and their safety. Since nothing in life comes without some form of risk, the benefits afforded must outweigh the potential harm. The physicians of Trinity Medical Associates firmly believe that vaccines do not unnecessarily increase the risk of harm and that they have a tremendous impact in preventing disease and protecting children from death and permanent disability. We feel that the protection afforded by the vaccinations is worth the minimal risk involved.
One analogy to this risk would be infant car seats. For the first year of life children are required to be strapped into a five point harness in the back seat facing backwards. In almost every car accident scenario, this is by far the safest position. However, if one were to be driving across a bridge, lose control, and careen over the edge into the water below, then the most dangerous spot in the car would be the infant car seat. If we were able to predict the day when this accident was going to happen, we would certainly not use the car seat on that day. In reality, however, we are unable to predict when this might happen. So we have to prepare for the most likely car accident and how to protect our children in that situation.
The same is true for vaccinations. In almost every scenario the more risky choice is to remain unvaccinated than to chance the small risk of adverse side effects from a vaccination. If we know in advance of a child’s health problem that may be exacerbated by a vaccination, we will not attempt that vaccination. For instance, those allergic to eggs cannot receive certain vaccinations. However, every other vaccination would still be necessary. Even so the link between vaccinations and developmental delay or autism is unfounded. There is no credible evidence to warrant this concern. The most compelling evidence to the contrary can be found investigating autism rates from countries with very low vaccinations rates. Many European countries have much lower vaccination rates than the United States but report identical autism rates.
As pediatricians and family doctors we spend an enormous amount of time and energy attempting to help parents guide their children into healthy adulthood. We counsel on literally hundreds of illnesses, concerns, symptoms, and fears of parents. Very few of these concerns compare in severity or risk of injury to remaining unvaccinated. In that setting we have found that parents who distrust our advice on receiving vaccinations in the end also distrust our advice on so many other issues that carry so much less risk of injury. To that end we advocate vaccination according to national guidelines except in cases that have a true medical contraindication. If parents feel that is not acceptable or wish to decline those vaccinations we advise parents to seek other healthcare providers that share their viewpoint.