September 12, 2011

I am going to tackle a hot topic today. Both sides of the vaccine debate consider the others point of view as heresy. I like to keep an open mind to all sides and review the published data.

As the rate of under vaccinated children continues to rise, it is paramount that we all stay educated on the risks and realities of the previously devastating diseases that are returning. In a recent editorial in AAP news, it was noted that measles is on the rise.

I have never seen a live case of measles, but I think that my days are numbered. With a death rate for Measles of 1 in 1000, I am not looking forward to a resurgence of the illness. The data note that most new cases are occurring in unvaccinated US travelers to countries where measles is common. These children then import the illness back stateside. For the first half of this year, there have been 174 cases in the US. Based on those numbers there will be 6 cases per state per year and increasing yearly. Living near Charlotte raises our risk a little.

The illness is highly contagious and spreads through the air by breathing, coughing and sneezing. Prevention is much like the flu. Stay away from anyone suspected of having the illness. Vaccination is the best way to be safe. My whole family is vaccinated against the illness.

While I will not judge a parent for their choice, I do feel a duty to educate. It would seem prudent for those who choose not to vaccinate to seriously reconsider that choice if they are traveling to an endemic country with a young unvaccinated child. I would further recommend that all parents update themselves on the appearance and the morbidity of measles. If we are right and current vaccine trends continue as they have in Europe, we will all be seeing a new wave of previously prevented diseases in our children.

See the link to further educate yourself.

Also see the article by Woods et al. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/125/6/1134.full

This study tried to determine whether children who received recommended vaccines on time during the first year of life had different neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years of age as compared with children with delayed receipt or nonreceipt of these vaccines. It is a nice piece of work and gives us some pause to breathe and believe that vaccines are unlikely to be the cause of most of what they are blamed for. I would love to still see more studies funded by non vaccine companies to help me look every parent in the eye with full conviction of safety. Until that day comes, we are stuck with the best analysis based on 2011 data.

I hope that this is a little clearer. Probably not, but I tried!