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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To Immunize or Not to Immunize?

How often do two sisters become unknowingly pregnant at the same time? Well maybe more often than I think, but in my family it's a first. Over the summer I received the news that both my older sisters were expecting in February. So here we are awaiting the little rascals and basically freaking out. One big question on my sisters' minds is whether or not to immunize their babies with all of the vaccines available these days. Not only are the small pox and the measles vaccinations given, but now there is also a chicken pox vaccine. My mother has her own opinion. She has gotten wrapped up in the media accounts of vaccinations leading to autism in children.

So is there any truth in this idea of vaccines leading to other problems such as autism or the increased chance of having allergies?I decided to look into this now hot topic in the news. The Pennsylvania Department of Health offers a schedule of the recommended immunizations for children 0-6 years old. There are eleven vaccinations recommended, and these are not even the total number available to children. Growing up, I never doubted why I received the vaccines I did; I followed the lead of my parents and unwillingly allowed the needle to puncture my skin. I always assumed that vaccinations were for the best, ensuring the good health of children in our country. So why is my mom so concerned about my soon-to-be niece and nephew receiving their vaccinations?

Perhaps it has to do with articles such as “Fight Over Vaccine-Autism Link Hits Court”, or "Vaccine-Autism Question Divides Parents, Scientists" that has my mother so worried. She is becoming overly wrapped up in a frenzy the media has the power to create. What's interesting is that the majority of the articles or stories claim that there is actually no experimental proof that there is a link between vaccinations and autism. In his article in The Washington Post, "Study Finds No Autism Link in Vaccine" Shankar Vedantam summarizes the research of Andrew Wakefield. This British researcher concluded that there is no link between autism and the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Actually, there has been no scientific evidence introduced thus far pointing to any of the vaccines being responsible in causing autism.

I attempted to explain all this to my mother the other night, but she still seems weary. I guess you'll have that when dealing with a first time grandmother.


  1. As far as I know, and after taking Immunology at Ashland, there really should be no concern for them to get their kids immunized. Numerous studies have shown that there really isn't a strict correlation between the number of kids getting autism and the amount of mercury in vaccines.

  2. First of all, I just want to say that I'm glad I made it through this post without passing out (due to the queasiness that overcomes me when I even think about things such as blood or needles).

    Getting to the point, I actually saw an episode of "Private Practice" on abc about a mother who did NOT want her child to be vaccinated because her other child developed autism. The doctors wanted the kid to get vaccinated because another kid (that's three kids total) developed a disease that was deadly and could be vaccinated against. The mother REFUSED. In that case, wouldn't you rather have your child autistic instead of dead?

  3. Twins think alike, that's exactly what I was going to reference. It's like two kids or one, you choose. I recall at the end of that episode, one of the doctors went ahead and vaccinated the unvaccinated child in order to prevent him from dying.

    I agree totally that vaccinations to not cause disorders like Autism, and if this is the case, should a medical professional be allowed to step in and make the decision about who to vaccinate themselves in order to save lives? It's a tough controversy, but I think they should be able to step in; people who are not medical professionals don't understand the benefits of a vaccination as well as the so-called "risks."