Charlotesville is a community packed with really smart parents, but I’m often surprised at how often parents want to defer or decline routine immunizations. After reading the Vaccine Epidemic by Louise Habakus M.A. I’m no longer surprised. It’s a book filled with misinformation, half-truths, and political intrigue. All in the name of discrediting one of safest medical treatments mankind has ever known (i.e. vaccination). I won’t go into all the details explaining the book’s errors (a quick google search will do that), but I will say I was deeply saddened by the effect this book will have on childhood health and safety. It also has the secondary effect of injuring parent-doctor trust (since 93-99% of pediatricians recommend vaccinations), which is perhaps the biggest issue of all. If you can’t trust your child’s pediatrician, then who can you trust with your child’s health?
Luckily there are books and documentaries that express the other side of the debate. Perhaps my favorite is the book Vaccines and your Child by Paul Offit and the NOVA documentary, Vaccines: Calling the shots. It’s also worth scheduling an appointment with your child’s family doctor or pediatrician to ask questions. Most of us have spent greater than 2 decades learning the science and ethics of medical care, and would love to address your concerns and answer your questions.
As an aside, another great documentary film is the Polio Crusade by American Experience. It documents a time when vaccines were not the norm, and parents lived under the ever-present fear that their child might be paralyzed without warning. It discusses FDR’s march of dimes and how America rallied to defeat polio with a vaccine. It also references Wytheville Virginia (just 2.5 hours south of Charlottesville), a town that experienced what was likely the worst post-war polio outbreak in U.S. history.