Your job as a parent is to make good and safe decisions for your child, and one of the earliest and most important decisions you will make is whether or not to have your child vaccinated. As your pediatricians, it is our mission to provide your child with the best possible medical care and to do everything we can to help you make the correct medical decisions for your child. We want to leave no question or doubt about our position on this critical decision.
Complete childhood vaccination is critical to your child’s health. Everything in our professional and personal experiences shows us that vaccines are good and safe for your children and for ours. After all, we are all parents too.
Vaccines provide protection so a child can mount an effective defense against preventable serious illness, without the risk of contracting the actual illness. In our careers, many of us have seen children suffer and sometimes die from vaccine preventable diseases such as bacterial meningitis, rotavirus, measles and pertussis.
The timing of vaccination is also critical. Vaccine preventable illnesses can be especially devastating to infants and young children which is why we follow the American Academy of Pediatrics vaccine schedule calls for vaccination as soon as the baby is born. This schedule, which has been rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness, is designed to minimize the time your baby is susceptible to preventable serious illness and ensure your baby’s safety. The immune challenge from a sterile, single particle of defense is miniscule as compared to the immune challenge an infant faces passing through the birth canal or in his new daily environment.
As we hope you recognize, choosing not to vaccinate, or choosing to “spread out” the vaccines, or choosing to have some but not all recommended vaccines, are not safe alternatives. Vaccine refusal by some families has led to a sharp increase in pertussis and recent outbreaks of measles and meningitis in the community. “Alternative” vaccination schedules actually put those babies at an increased risk for exposure to preventable contagious illness for a longer period of time. Such delays create unnecessarily risks for our precious infant patients.
While many parents in this area have never seen these actual illnesses because of the success of earlier vaccine campaigns, many of these serious preventable diseases are still very common in the world and remain only an international plane passenger away from your infant. There is a real and increasing threat to your child’s safety if the community does not maintain a high level of standard immunity. The families who choose not to immunize their children or choose to delay their protection by spreading out the vaccines over more months are increasing the risk to all the babies. Vulnerable new infants and children with special health care needs come to us for care every day. They depend on their other community citizens to do their part to fully immunize their children and lessen the exposure risk of contagious diseases in schools, daycares and our waiting room.
We know there are plenty of celebrities and would-be scientists offering opinions and advice about vaccine safety and about when, whether and how your child should be vaccinated. Keep in mind that much of this information stems from the work of a single discredited scientist who falsified his work and recently had his medical license revoked. If the rumors and reports leave you concerned or confused, then we can help you with trustworthy information: Bring us your questions or log on to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center website.
We at CHOP Care Network Flourtown are not just presenting one side of the story. We firmly believe in the safety of vaccines and urge you to make the same decision we have made for our own children. Immunize your child according to the AAP recommended vaccine standard for their own safety and for the safety of the other children in our waiting room and community. We consider it imperative to protect your child and your grave responsibility to access this privilege.
If you would like more information on vaccines, please ask. We have many available resources, including, but not limited to, the links below.