The H1N1 vaccine is now available to the public, but instead of making plans to get the vaccine, many families are writing it off and encouraging other families to do the same.
This, and an increasing trend among young, educated parents to question the safety and necessity of childhood vaccinations, has me worried that parents are missing the big picture.
Vaccines have been so effective they’ve become their own worst enemies. They’ve been so good at preventing disease that people don’t realize that the disease still exists.
A story in the New York Times on Thursday, “Swine Flu Shots Revive a Debate About Vaccines” attempted to take a “balanced” look at the – to vaccinate or not to vaccinate – situation.
The problem is, a “balanced” story suggests there are two sides and thus both need to be represented. I don’t feel there are two sides. There is only one. Vaccines save lives.
My opinion is that we continue to have a controversy because the media is willing to pay credence to unproven accusations about the dangers of vaccines. Unfortunately, this results in people believing there is a controversy when I do not believe a controversy exists.
There are many well intentioned, but misinformed, people propagating the misinformation based largely on their celebrity status.
The continued concern and confusion about vaccines is worrisome to me, especially in light of the recent Special Masters cases that stated there was no connection between vaccines and the conditions for which the families were suing. I am afraid that people are going to die because of misinformation that led them to decide not to receive a vaccine.
I know parents struggle to ensure they are making the right decision for their children. Vaccinating your child is a right decision. I encourage every parent to look past the propaganda and fame of those opposed to vaccines and listen to the doctors who work every day to improve the health of children.
Robert W. Frenck, Jr, MD, is board certified in both pediatrics and infectious diseases. Dr. Frenck is an acknowledged authority in infectious diseases and has authored over 60 articles and book chapters on the subject. His current research interests include therapeutic and vaccine clinical trials with a special interest in enteric diseases.