A Doctor’s View of Vaccines

I am strongly of the opinion that most of the people who are anti-vaccine have never seen the consequences of the diseases that can be prevented. Many use Google to determine the evil that vaccines do, perhaps they should use Google to search for the consequences of avoiding vaccines. Search for the images; some of them are not pretty. I’m old enough to remember relatives in wheelchairs from the effects of polio, and my mother talks about friends of hers blinded by measles.

In the Globe and Mail, Dr. Jeremy Freidman describes some of his experiences without vaccines.

As a medical student training in South Africa I saw too many beautiful children die an awful death from exotic-sounding diseases like diphtheria and tetanus and measles that few Canadian medical students would be able to recognize today.

These diseases, together with others like polio, are almost never seen any more. Smallpox has been eradicated. Why? Because of successful immunization. So it seems a bit ironic that what many consider to be the greatest advance in childhood health and survival worldwide would be such a source of emotion and angst for many parents.

I was privileged to do my specialty training at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in the early 1990s. As a general pediatric resident, one of my worst fears was admitting a young child with bacterial meningitis, or even worse, not recognizing the often innocuous non-specific early symptoms and thereby delaying the potentially lifesaving antibiotic therapy.

Bacterial meningitis in even the best health-care facilities could take a perfect healthy baby and within hours cause permanent brain damage or even death. Then along came the Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae type B) vaccine and essentially wiped out this type of bacterial meningitis in Canada.

Very rarely since then have I seen cases of severe brain damage resulting from a potentially preventable Hib or pneumococcal meningitis. These heartbreaking cases are almost exclusively in those who did not receive the recommended vaccine either from lack of opportunity, as in new immigrants or refugees, or out of parental choice.

He admits that nothing is 100% effective and risk free, but the risks from avoiding vaccines are much greater than getting the vaccines.  There is a terrific graphic available from the Council of Foreign Relations that outlines the rise of some preventable diseases over the past 5 years. Many of these outbreaks are totally unnecessary and due directly to people who have bought into the anti-vaccine hype.

And for those who are wondering how vaccines might cause autism, the answer is here.

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