Flu season is here, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive the flu vaccination every year, with few exceptions. However, even though influenza and pneumonia ranked eighth in the top 10 causes of death in the US in 2011, some people still choose to forgo the vaccine due to fear generated from misinformation. A recent article from NPR by Tara Haelle counters 32 common flu shot myths, including fears that the flu vaccine causes the flu and that pregnant women should not get the vaccine. The article is a great read for anyone who is even slightly concerned about the safety or importance of the flu vaccine.
Unfortunately, fear of vaccinations is not just limited to the flu shot, and as an article in the New York Times points out, vaccine fear in general has gone viral. The article states that although New York State and city have strict immunization requirements, many parents are still attempting to have their children exempt from vaccination protocols required to attend New York City schools. Many pediatricians in the city have made it a policy in recent years to refuse to see children who have not been vaccinated.
Dr. David Horwitz, a Manhattan pediatrician, explains, We were spending a lot of time talking to parents who weren t immunizing and who were terribly ill informed ¦We were spending so much time talking about vaccinations that we weren t dealing with other things.
Another pediatrician, Dr. Laura Popper, also refuses to take on unvaccinated children as patients. After seeing two little girls who weren t immunized die of diphtheria during her residency nearly 40 years ago, she said to herself, This will never again happen under my watch. She concludes, My feeling is that it will take something like that on a very large scale to get upper-middle-class people to realize that this is serious stuff.
ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross adds, Vaccines are a public health miracle, and ill informed parents, as well whose medical information is derived mainly from TV or the internet, who choose not to vaccinate their children are creating a serious threat to America s public health, as we ve seen recently with the re-emergence of vaccine preventable diseases we once thought were eradicated. It s extremely important that doctors take a stand, as illustrated in the NY Times article, to show their support for vaccines as doctors have the potential to be extremely influential in their patients lives.