Friday, March 21, 2008


On a serious note: When my kids started playing with their new Playmobil, I got to read half of the article in the NY Times about more parents not immunizing their kids. One mom is quoted as saying "I'm not going to sacrifice my child for the greater good." She acknowledges that her decision puts other children at risk.

She doesn't acknowledge that the risk her child creates by not being immunized is a greater risk with much more data behind it than the perceived risks she's avoiding for her children.

She doesn't acknowledge that her child's continued good health depends on other parents being willing to vaccinate their kids (for the good of their communities and themselves). Not immunizing is the privilege of the wealthy and the burden of the poor.

Any health decision we make -- in pregnancy, as parents, for ourselves -- involves risks and benefits, unforeseen consequences and unknowable protections. I'm not someone who blindly follows the advice of medical professionals. But when it comes to vaccinations I don't think the shaky science against it, the rumor and innuendo and the playground conversations about breast-milk providing enough protection against the diseases against which children are inoculated, should win out over 50 years of proven public health success and the hundreds of thousands of lives vaccinations have no doubt saved. Immunizing isn't just about the greater good, it's the better decision.


Anonymous said...

The anti immunization thinking makes me shudder. I'm not old enough to have witnessed first hand the devastating effects of polio and tuberculosis in this country, however I have helped care for people who survived such illnesses and the toll on their bodies is not something you would wish on a child you love. Those who survived such illnesses were the "lucky" ones. Their contemporaries died. Why would anyone put their children at risk for that? We don't live in a bubble.


Robin Aronson said...

That's a good point about the bubble. I think too many people don't realize that diseases that we don't see still exist. Like measles, or whooping cough One of the most powerful pro-immunization arguments I've read was in a book called Healthy Child, Whole Child by two holistic pediatricians. Their practice and philosophy embraces alternative modalities, but they'd seen whooping cough up close and personal and couldn't in good conscience recommend against immunization. I've never seen whopping cough, but their description of it was powerful enough to convince me that the risk of that disease was worse any perceived risk from immunization.