Friday, September 2, 2016

On-going Immunization Conversation

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a shift in their policy position on families who don't vaccinate their children.  Their new position is that these families can be dismissed from a pediatrician's practice if vaccination is refused.  Their statement encouraged gentleness in doing this, but the change in course from one supporting tolerance to this new stance is a pretty dramatic change.  In addition, they've issued a statement that all personal exemptions presently allowed under state laws should be rescinded by state legislatures.

Ever since the measles outbreak in Disneyland in January of 2015, the public argument over vaccinations has exploded, devolving often into mere name-calling and false stereotyping.  The pro-vaccination side claims science is on their side and that statistically speaking, "you're a fool not to be vaccinated," (and "non-vaxxers" are threatening everyone in the Free World by their dopey Neanderthal arrogance as well.)  Open hostility has been pretty common.  On the other side are thousands of compassionate, EDUCATED parents who just want what is the best for their children's health.  Who is right?  There is no Right answer for every situation, and statistics don't provide answers to any single individual.

I believe the AAP is off-base.  Vaccinations are a medical procedure.  Like all medical procedures there are risks and benefits, and these have to be spelled out to each patient by Informed Consent.  To go down a path that forces parents to accept only one choice is to violate the very conscience and purpose of having Informed Consent.  Informed Consent guarantees patients the right to choose for themselves what they are willing to risk from a medical procedure and the consequences of exercising that choice.  To dismiss families from medical care because parents won't make the same choice as their pediatrician is punitive, and fulfills no good purpose, leaving children without a physician.

The AAP takes a second draconian step by wanting the removal of personal exemptions and leaving only medical exemptions (which only a doctor gets to determine) as the only way to avoid exposing your child to the risks immunizations pose.  If these shots were so perfectly safe, then why has the Federal Government excluded pharmaceutical companies from liability on their vaccines?  Prior to this legislation, the number of lawsuits and size of the awards for wrongful death and injury from vaccinations caused the pharmaceutical companies to threaten they would stop making vaccines if they weren't protected from lawsuits.  Congress, inundated with reports from public health officials about the rare but equally horrifying deaths and injuries from the various illnesses themselves (and surely no small amount of pharmaceutical company lobbying money), caved quickly and passed the requested legislation.

Are vaccines safe?  Statistically, I have to say yes, for the most part.  Do vaccines prevent dangerous diseases?  Again statistically, apparently yes, though not as effectively as we are brainwashed to believe.  Have I, or would I vaccinate myself or my children?  No, except perhaps under extreme duress and fear; and I can admit to caving into that on rare occasions.  But, there are still hundreds of adverse effects (including deaths) reported each year, and perhaps thousands of unsubstantiated but strongly suspected injuries to children's health.  These are injuries and deaths silenced and dismissed by a myopic medical community blinded more by their statistically regimented conviction than their holding any objective compassion for the real fears parents carry and the dangers to the welfare of their children many experience at the hands of our technological Western form of medicine..

In my humble opinion, informed consent and personal exemptions should remain the free choice of all patients, and the AAP should re-think their new position.