So I speak about vaccines frequently to try and help dispel any confusion. Today I was on social media, and I saw a post about a doc wondering how to approach pts that don’t want to vaccine their children or want to use a delayed schedule. The question had to do with a legal document that some docs are having their pts sign about refusing vaccines. In short it was a document that the parent had to confirm in writing that they were refusing to vaccinate and were releasing the doctor from any liability.
Now I am no lawyer, but this concept is foolish to me. To be perfectly blunt, I have pts of all ages ignore my recommendations all the time. “I recommend a pap.” “You should get colon cancer screening.” “You should take this blood pressure medicine.” “I think you should get cardiovascular screening.” All kinds of recommendations that pts will refuse or choose not to do. I recommend vaccines to all my pts. I think the childhood vaccines are vital. More specifically I KNOW they are vital. Science has proven that to me many, many times. History has proven it.
So I KNOW my kids in my practice should be vaccinated. I spend a lot of time talking about it with parents. But I am not going to be firing pts just because they dont take my advice. I also am not going to deny accepting a pt just because they believe differently than I do on this subject.
Now on this social media post I also saw something from a colleague that I thought was interesting. I hadnt thought about it in this fashion. He doesnt take families that dont vaccinate because when he gets a call in the middle of the night about a sick child with a fever, he doesnt want to have to ask himself if it is 2020 or if it is 1917. I really like how he approaches this concern.
See, in this modern day of 2020 with modern medicines, vaccines, nutrition, and all the other blessing we live with in today’s society, my default position when I hear of a sick child is that it is a minor illness that will resolve on its own and leave no long term effects. I pretty much always approach a sick child with a conservative approach. In 1917, somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25% of children didnt reach adulthood. Of course some of that was accidents, bacterial infections etc. But much of it was preventable illnesses that we have vaccines for now. For example, I have never seen a case of measles. I am afraid that I wouldnt even recognize it if I did. This is concerning to me, because I dont want to miss something that could seriously maim or kill a child.
It wasnt too long ago that our family went to see the musical “Little House on the Prairie.” For those that havent seen this musical or dont know the tv show from the 70s, it is about a Minnesota family living on the farm in the late 1800s. The scene from the musical (and the show) I am referencing is when one of the daughters gets sick and ends up losing her sight. The doctor tells the parents that she will never see again, “…but she’ll live.” They are distraught of course and are upset that she is blind. He responds once again “…but she’ll live.”
Now imagine a society and time where the concept of a disability like lifelong blindness is actually a decent outcome of an illness. We still have disease processes, cancer, many things we cannot control where a lot of outcomes are not desirable. But to not prevent the things we CAN prevent and potentially exposing our children to an illness where blindness is a good result … that’s why I recommend vaccinations. To prevent outcomes like that.
I only hope my pts trust my training, trust the science, and most of all trust me enough to listen to my advice.
PS-I really love a couple of Ted talks you can watch on youtube about vaccines. Please take a few minutes to check them out
“Data doesnt resonate with people. People resonate with people.” Quoted from: Why we need to fight misinformation about vaccines | Ethan Lindenberger
“Vaccines have been SO effective at reducing so much disease that we dont fear it anymore.” Quoted from Why Parents Fear Vaccines | Tara Haelle | TEDxOslo