- - Thursday, January 22, 2015

Without a second thought, I would jump in front of a car to save my precious 3-year old daughter. As parents, there is little we wouldn’t do for our children to protect them, provide for them and bring joy into their lives. We want nothing but the best for them, especially when it comes to their health.

That being said, over the last several years, there has been a growing trend of parents electing not to get their children vaccinated. Their choice does not reflect a lack of love or caring, but, instead, a fear that vaccinations can harm them — the opposite purpose for which they were intended for.

This trend has led to the recent measles outbreak at “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland in California. Yes, measles, a disease that was believed to have been eradicated from American soil. The virus is highly contagious and can cause a runny nose, cough, sore throat, high fever and a red, blotchy skin rash. In severe cases, permanent hearing loss, brain damage (due to swelling), and death can occur. And unlike bacterial illnesses, there is no antibiotic or medication to stop it in its tracks. The best treatment in this case is prevention. Those who are vaccinated against it, have only a 5 percent risk of contracting the disease, compared to 90 percent if not vaccinated. Let’s take a look at some myths that need to be debunked.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Childhood Immunization Myths:

Myth #1: Vaccines cause autism. In 1997, the British doctor Andrew Wakefield published an article stating that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to the increased rates of autism being diagnosed. His research and assertions were shown to be false, and possibly even fraudulent, resulting in him losing his medical license.

Additionally, a number of studies have been conducted to affirm that there is no link between autism and the MMR vaccine. And new research has shown good evidence that autism may begin while a child is in their mother’s uterus (before any immunizations are administered).

Myth #2: Vaccines can make my child sick with the disease we are trying to prevent. The oral polio vaccine (no longer in use) is the only known immunization that has caused an illness it was intended to prevent. There are no other vaccinations, including the flu shot, that will infect our children with the illness. In some instances, our immune systems can respond to the vaccination with mild symptoms — low-grade fever, aches, or soreness at the sight—that mimic the illness. This can lead us to falsely assume that we got sick from the vaccine.

Myth #3: I do not have to vaccinate my child because the risk of transmission is so low. The recent measles, mumps, whooping cough, and polio outbreaks in the United States are case in points that our children need to be vaccinated. For many years, we have benefitted from a concept called “herd immunity,” where a large enough majority of people are immunized (and hence resistant), that the germ has a difficult time finding someone to infect and spread itself. However, with the growing number of parents electing not to get their children vaccinated, the protection that herd immunity once afforded us has diminished.

And with highly contagious infections like measles, mumps, the seasonal flu, and whooping cough, this is a particular danger. These germs are airborne; meaning that if someone who is infected sneezes or coughs, their germs will “float” in the air and have the ability to infect someone else, possibly even hours later!

Before the measles vaccine became available in the United States in 1963, the virus caused tremendous suffering: annually, more than 500,000 illnesses, 48,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths. We cannot forget these staggering numbers. As parents, we must carefully weigh the science and facts against the myths, particularly when it comes to our most important legacy: our children.

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