The angst I always feel before reading a vaccine article in the mainstream press dissipated after a few sentences here. I am glad Julie Deardorff is approaching this on the level: it's not supposed to be "parents vs. the medical community." This vaccine issue is about parents learning about real information and growing concerned that our medical authorities aren't being straight with us. We deserve better.
Here is Julie's artice as printed in the Chicago Tribune today:
The AAP gets tough on vaccine dissenters
The American Academy of Pediatrics is growing so concerned about the climbing rate of vaccine exemptions--and the possible affect on community health--that it recently formed a group called the "Immunization Alliance" to address the growing refusal of some parents to vaccinate.
In a letter sent to members, the AAP identified the following as problems:
"Parent-to-parent spread of myths."
"A public that does not understand the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases."
"Unbalanced Internet and media exposure."
"Decreased trust in the government and health care providers."
"Slow response to negative news coverage."
"Increasing calls for philosophical exemptions."
But here's a problem the AAP missed: The sheer number of recommended and mandated vaccines is freaking parents out. And new combo shots that contain a stew of four or five different vaccines aren't going to help matters.
In 1982, The Centers for Disease Control recommended 23 doses of 7 vaccines for children up to age 6.
Today, the CDC recommends that children get 48 doses of 12 vaccines by age 6. That's a lot. Toss in flu shots for all infants and children and it boosts the number of recommended vaccines for children to 69 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18.
The two new combo shots approved yesterday by a federal advisory panel don't change the schedule; they just reduce the number of individual shots. GlaxoSmithKline's four-in-one shot offers protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio. Sanofi Pasteur's five-in-one shot is for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and illness due to Haemophilus influenzae type b, or HiB.
But parents who are already asking doctors to unbundle the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine because they want their child to have individual vaccines aren't likely to embrace a five-shot cocktail. The new shots are also likely to raise questions, concerns and storage issues.
And how does the AAP plan to handle it? The organization will not talk about choice or informed consent, issues that should be raised with any medical procedure that carries a risk.
Instead, the AAP suggests in a sample letter to pediatricians, that physicians tell parents who refuse to vaccinate that they have a "self-centered and unacceptable attitude" since your child is getting protection from others who have chosen to vaccinate.
And if you absolutely refuse to vaccinate your child despite your physician's efforts, you could be booted from your pediatrician's practice. The sample letter to doctors from the AAP recommends saying:
"We will ask you to find another health care provider who shares your views. We do not keep a list of such providers nor would we recommend any such physician."