It's time for my two cents on the vaccination debate. It is after all a hot topic for many parents.
Yes, we vaccinate. And in fact, we're following the recommended (and fairly aggressive) vaccination schedule which often includes a series of shots every couple of months.
Now there's a lot of controversy around the safety of today's vaccinations. Many people contribute the rise in autism to the aggressive vaccination schedule that is the norm in America today. Of particular concern is the Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) bundle which children get around 12 months.
So a couple of things. Yes, more children are being diagnosed with autism today than ever before. But the researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who pioneered the science linking autism and vaccines has been under fire for years. And in fact, earlier this year, he lost his license to practice medicine in the UK. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/health/policy/25autism.html).
Sure one must question the recent rise in autism, but I imagine there are so many environmental factors that could contribute to this development, that identifying just one - may be near impossible. Could it be the toxins that we breathe or ingest? What about the high fructose corn syrup (oh I'm sorry "corn sugar") that is found in everything from formula to baby food. You can't tell me that the engineered food that we eat every day does not or will not have a long term effect on the health of our society.
But even so, if there is any chance that vaccines are linked with autism, wouldn't it be better just to abstain? Especially given that we rarely see mumps, pertussis or polio on the streets. Some might ask, "are we protecting our children from ghosts that don't even exist?" But I would argue that they don't exist, or at least only exist in small percentages in our country, because the majority of American families choose to vaccinate. And in fact, when we see communities fail to vaccinate we see a significant rise in these once thought extinct diseases. That was the case with the measles soon after Wakefield first published his research.
And for me it's a public health issue. Not only do I not want to put my son at risk, but I don't want to risk the lives of the children with whom he interacts daily. It only takes one otherwise healthy toddler with whooping cough (pertussis) to come into contact with and pass the disease on to a 6 month old who hasn't yet been vaccinated, because he's too young. And where the toddler may now have the immunity to fight the disease (even though he was never vaccinated) the 6 month old does not. And as a result, one family's decision not to vaccinate has put another child's life at serious risk.
So yes, we vaccinate. And to be quite honest, we hope you do too.