Measles, Immunization, and Refusal to Vaccinate

Measles, Immunization, and Refusal to VaccinateAs everyone is aware, we are now seeing measles as a result of unvaccinated children who harbor and spread the infection. How we got here is a sad tale of misinformation, confusion and poor choices.

Over 15 years ago, we at MacKoul Pediatrics, Cape Coral decided to stop seeing unimmunized children (the fault of their parent’s choices not the children). By not immunizing, parents choose to put their children and members of the community at risk for vaccine preventable diseases. We could not agree with nor support this poor choice, and here we are, over 15 years later, faced with an unbelievable situation, measles again in the United States; and it’s not only measles, whooping cough is also making a comeback and can be a life threatening disease in babies less than 6 months old. We, the people of the United States, are spoiled by the success of vaccines. We haven’t experienced the scourge of these diseases for generations. Now we are.

Members of our community most at risk are the elderly, immunosuppressed patients and children under one year of age. They have been placed at risk for measles through no fault of their own and they are powerless to protect themselves. Therefore, all of us need to ask several questions of ourselves and, it’s long overdue.

If you choose not to vaccinate your children for non-medical reasons and your child becomes ill with a vaccine preventable disease that can make them very sick with potentially catastrophic outcomes and worse yet, infects your neighbor, their children or innocent people you don’t even know, who’s at fault? Is it the Internet, with its vast amount of false information? Politicians who pander for votes? Celebrities with no medical background who make false statements of adverse events? Other health care practitioners who falsely offer treatment modalities in place of vaccines without evidence based scientifically valid, real research to support their claims? Or parents, who read the internet, listen to the politicians and the celebrities, and then dismiss the advice of their child’s doctor whose only concern is the health and welfare of the patients they care for and of the community in which they reside? Who is best able to discuss fact and fiction surrounding vaccines, what they do, how they work, the risks and benefits of vaccination and what might happen if you don’t vaccinate? If you believe in a parent’s right to choose to vaccinate, and as a result, your child spreads the infection (again, don’t blame the children) resulting in bad outcomes for the most vulnerable of our society, when does your right to refuse to vaccinate become a liability? Perhaps we can get started on this soul searching with a statement from Anne Schuchat, MD, assistant surgeon general and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “This is not a problem with the measles vaccine not working…..This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used.”

I leave you with this observation. Over 15 years ago, when we decided to stop seeing unvaccinated children, over 90% of parents who refused to vaccinate, changed their minds. We will continue to educate, lead, and practice only evidence based, scientifically valid health care. Your children deserve nothing less. The health of our community will suffer if we don’t.

About author MacKoul Pediatrics

MacKoul Pediatrics is an amazing local pediatrics office in Cape Coral, FL where caring, compassionate doctors and nurses work with you to keep your children as healthy as possible. MacKoul cares for children from birth to college age, from Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples, and beyond.

March 6, 2015