Thursday, August 1, 2013

Voices for Vaccines

A group of parents has created an organization that advocates for vaccinating children. Voices for Vaccines provide information through a community of parents who are supportive of vaccination and discuss the benefits of on-time vaccination. Although the organization is parent driven, scientists, healthcare professionals and public health officials also support it.

One of the most compelling pages on the Voices for Vaccines website is the “Parents Who Vax” section, where parents explain why they chose to vaccinate their infants. Dr. Torre McGowan, MD is a practicing emergency physician in California and the mother of two little boys. She wrote an essay on the consequences of not vaccinating.  She states:

“I fully support parents’ rights to choose not to vaccinate, but there are consequences to that decision. I have had many conversations with parents in the middle of the night when their child has a fever and had to explain to them that because of their decision to not vaccinate, research indicates that their child is at a significantly increased risk for life-threatening diseases, and so will need invasive testing in the ER. It will take hours, and it will hurt their child. I tell them that the diseases we vaccinate against aren’t just nuisances; they kill and maim children every day, and they are almost completely preventable by vaccination.

I tell parents that I have worked in several developing countries, and I have seen children disfigured by diseases that we only read about in history books. I’ve seen babies die of diseases that in the U.S. we don’t even think about as a cause of illness because vaccination has nearly eliminated the illness. However, these illnesses are starting to make a comeback because of the anti-vaccine movement.

I also tell them that as a parent of two boys, I carefully research every vaccine and medicine that my children are given. I read the medical journals on the topic; examine the evidence for myself about all of the controversies about thimerosal and autism and invasive disease. Then I tell them that after many hours of studying the best research available, I am first in line to have my children vaccinated every time they are due.”

The parents at Voices for Vaccines aren’t alone. Nurses Who Vaccinate is a blog that advocates the safety and reliability of vaccines. Families Fighting Flu is a website that advocates for the flu shot to protect children from the flu.  Pfizer Australia created the smart phone app VaxiMate to help parents keep children’s immunization records organized and on time. The app is free and also includes the Australian immunization schedule and details on the diseases the child is being vaccinated against.

While there are numerous resources available on the Internet in favor and against vaccines, one of the best resources parents have is their child’s pediatrician. Vaccine Watch encourages parents to study all of the information, ask questions and make an informed decision for their child’s health and wellbeing.

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