Are You Vacillating on Vaccinating?

 Children attending Florida schools are required to be properly vaccinated for the following: polio, varicella (chickenpox), mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenza B.

Strongly recommended immunizations include: Hepatitis A, Meningococcal meningitis, Human Papilloma Virus and the annual Influenza vaccine.

Source: Florida Department of HealthAre You Vacillating on Vaccinating?  Medical Experts Discuss the Benefits of Immunizations by Andi Mahoney

Parents spend countless hours cautioning their children that the stove is hot, keeping little fingers from electrical outlets and absolutely forbidding their teen girls to shut the bedroom door when their boyfriends come over. Their primary job is to protect their children from the endless threats that could harm them. Some things are not as cut-and-dried as running with scissors, and one topic that causes parents unnecessary anxiety is whether or not to vaccinate their child.

Immunizations stimulate the immune system to form antibodies that will fight infection and help protect against certain bacteria that are becoming resistant to antibiotics. There are currently vaccinations for 16 different diseases, as well as numerous misconceptions that go along with them.

As summer comes to a close, the long list of things to do to prepare for going back to school is beckoning. Every state now requires proof of immunization for certain diseases for admission to school, and the pediatrician’s office is buzzing come August. Some parents are concerned that vaccines will overwhelm their child’s immune system or that exposure to these viruses may increase the chances their child will contract the virus.

 “It is theoretically impossible to overwhelm the immune system with the vaccines in a healthy child. The immune system can handle a thousand different antigens a day. Even when a child receives four different vaccines in one day, he is only receiving approximately 100 different antigens,” said Dr. Rickey Viator, board certified pediatrician for Sacred Heart Medical Group.  “Additionally, splitting up the vaccines in order to decrease side effects does not work, and by delaying vaccines you increase the chance your child could actually get one of these illnesses.”

According to Dr. Viator, there are also concerns regarding the aluminum or Thimerasol content in vaccines.

Thimerasol has not been used in manufacturing pediatric vaccines since 2001. Also, the aluminum exposure from vaccines is less than the aluminum exposure your child would get from aluminum cookware.

“Despite the studies linking autism to the MMR vaccine being completely refuted by repeat studies, as well as the original author saying he falsified his data in publishing those articles, this debate continues,” said Dr. Lalitha Vadlamani-Simmers, board certified pediatrician for White-Wilson Medical Center. “When the cause of a horrible childhood medical condition cannot be identified, there is finger pointing.”

Today, childhood vaccination levels are at a record high in the United States while illness or death from diseases such as tetanus, measles and mumps are at all time lows.

“Vaccines are the single greatest medical achievement in the past 100 years. Prior to the current childhood immunization schedule, over 50 percent of children died before their first birthday. Think about that,” Vadlamani-Simmers said. “Childhood vaccinations allow me the luxury of worrying about when my son will have his heart broken versus if he will live long enough to make it to first grade.”

It is true that not all people show the same level of an immune response to vaccines. If the majority of people are vaccinated against these diseases and more than 90 percent of them have an adequate immune response, then the overall exposure risk is greatly reduced.

As summer draws to a close and it is time to schedule annual physical exams and vaccinations, parents can rest assured that these things will help protect their child. Dr. Viator summarized: “Not having your child immunized is like not wearing a seat belt. Most of the time you can get away with it, but the one time you do not, you pay the price."