There's been a lot of talk about vaccines for children causing more harm than good. Some parents are even going against known public guidelines and not vaccinating their children for certain diseases. Our America Now pediatrician, Dr. Cara Natterson, lays out some recommendations and explains why she chose to vaccinate her own children.
"As a mom, I completely understand the apprehension about giving your totally healthy, new baby vaccines. I mean, it's scary," says Dr. Natterson. "You're giving a shot to a child who's not sick. But, as a pediatrician, I have seen the diseases we protect against using vaccinations. I have seen them harm children. I have seen them kill children."
So often parents who choose not to vaccinate are just putting off the decision.
"They're saying, 'My baby's only two months old. I'm going to wait until he's bigger or stronger to give the vaccine.' That's not the right approach," says Dr. Natterson. "It's not a rational approach, because what you're saying is, 'My two-month-old baby is going to be unprotected against these infections, and that's okay with me.'"
Dr. Natterson says parents who choose to forgo vaccinations are underestimating the diseases they protect against.
"Every single disease that we immunize against has the capacity to kill," says Dr. Natterson. "We are victims of our own success in medicine, because these days we, as parents, don't know what any of these illnesses look like. We never had them as children and we don't remember seeing them among friends and family members. We don't have the healthy sense of respect for these illnesses that our parents' generation had."
Perhaps the biggest setback to children's vaccinations was a 1998 report claiming the MMR vaccine causes autism. The work of the scientist behind that research has since been debunked.
"No, MMR does not cause autism," says Dr. Natterson. "In the 13 years since that study was published, a number of facts have come out. He falsified his information, his data. He had a dozen collaborators on his article and the vast majority of them have stepped forward in the past decade and said, 'It was falsified. I don't support this conclusion. This data wasn't correct.'"
But for many parents, the fear of vaccines persists. Dr. Natterson has some strong advice.
"I did not hesitate one second to vaccinate my own children," says Dr. Natterson. "My best advice to parents is stop going online, don't search, you know, 'pneumococcus vaccine' and see the first 10 web sites that come up and rely on those for your information. Talk to your doctor. Ask your physician for web site recommendations. There are a lot of really smart people out there who can give you good information, but it's hard to find those people online."
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