A Pediatricians Take on Immunizations
Receiving immunizations is widely considered by healthcare professionals to be the most important thing one can do to prevent illness and disease. There is still much debate over whether immunizations are beneficial and necessary. Some parents are concerned about the risks they may subject their child to while others have religious beliefs that do not permit vaccinating.
As a large, multi-location pediatric practice in North Carolina, we treat people with many different beliefs. We respect the right for a parent to choose whether or not to vaccinate, however, we cannot accept unvaccinated children as patients. Here’s why.
Six Reasons Vaccines are Necessary
Reason #1: Children who are not vaccinated put infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated as well as people who are unable to receive immunizations for medical reasons at risk.
Reason #2: People are always traveling into and out of this country from places that may not have access to vaccines. With their travels, they can bring disease. Any public place that person visits puts unvaccinated people at risk. With approximately 10 percent of U.S. school children not vaccinated, the potential for an outbreak is a reality.
Reason #3: As a pediatric provider, it is our job to prevent and treat illness. We cannot fully do this if we are not permitted to provide the preventative treatments necessary for stopping disease and saving lives.
Reason #4: The doctor/patient (and parent) relationship is built on trust. It is our responsibility to provide patients and parents with information that will help them keep their kids healthy. If we recommend vaccines and the parent refuses, the trust within the relationship is compromised.
Reason #5: Vaccines are safe. Vaccines must undergo rigorous testing for safety by the FDA before being approved. Also, vaccines are subject to continuous monitoring to ensure they remain safe and effective.
Reason #6: We believe that the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics should be adhered to. This includes their recommendations for vaccines. The recommended vaccine schedule can be found here and here.
Often a parent is willing to have their child immunized for certain illnesses, but not others. A good example of this is the influenza vaccine, where a child is vaccinated against everything else except the flu. Influenza kills people every year. It is estimated that up to 20% of the population will get the flu annually. Of that, approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized, and up to 49,000 people die from the flu each year. While the flu vaccine does not protect against all flu strands, it does protect against most. A study just released looked at the influenza vaccine and its’ ability to prevent pediatric deaths over a five-year period. The study found that there is a much greater risk of death from getting influenza than receiving the vaccine.
Another vaccine that is recommended beginning at 11 years of age protects against the human papillomavirus (HPV). Since HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, many parents mistakenly think it should only be given to sexually active kids. This could not be further from the truth. The HPV vaccine is the only vaccine currently available that prevents cancer. The vaccine protects against approximately 90% of all cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers worldwide. The best age for vaccination is between the ages of 11-12 as it allows time for the body to build up resistance to the virus before exposure.
We believe that parents want to make the best decisions for their child’s health. As pediatric providers, it is our responsibility to help them achieve this. If you have questions or concerns about our vaccine policy, please do not hesitate to call our office at (910) 486-5437. Additionally, if your child is due for immunization, please call to schedule an appointment today.