Why isn’t there a gold-standard study proving once and for all that the current immunization schedule is the very best one possible? Of course, there is no evidence that spacing out vaccinations is safe or effective, while there is evidence that the current schedule is both, but where’s the incontrovertible truth about the ideal schedule?
A blog post by Dr. Chad Hayes explains: It would take millions of children, evenly split up by geography, medical issues and so forth. Half the children would have to get multiple, unnecessary injections of saline as a placebo group, and their parents wouldn’t know whether their children were getting placebos or real protection.
And that’s just the start.
Hayes’ helpful essay was among about 20 posted during the last week of April as part of an educational blog-a-thon to mark National Infant Immunization Week. We here at The Immunization Partnership participated with a post explaining the crucial difference between correlation and causation, and how confusion about the two have led some people to think there are meaningful connections between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders:
“[M]any things changed during the time that autism rates rose steeply, starting in the early 1990s. Exposure to many chemicals, for example. For that matter, consumption of organic food rose during the same time, but the public is less aware of that coincidence.
“The more likely cause for the increase, according to a March 2 article in the publication Spectrum, is that during the same time, the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders were expanded, which meant that children who previously hadn’t been diagnosed were now included. And in 1991, children with autism became eligible for special educational services, Spectrum reported. That might have encouraged families whose children previously had been called ‘intellectually disabled’ to have their children re-evaluated for autism. It’s worth noting that during the time that autism rates rose, the rates of ‘intellectual disability’ dropped.”
Now, a week later, our blog entry along with Hayes’ essay were included in the CDC’s list of 20 helpful blog posts during NIIW that helped to inform the public about the importance of getting babies and toddlers vaccinated on schedule, and to answer concerns raised by vaccine-hesitant people.
Dr. Claire McCarthy wrote for the American Academy of Pediatrics about how the era of fake news has affected attitudes toward vaccination:
“Recently I had a conversation with a parent who didn’t want to give his child the MMR vaccine—because of the movie “Vaxxed,” by and featuring Andrew Wakefield, whose research linking the MMR vaccine and autism was discredited and retracted (and he lost his medical license). The parent was a college professor.
“That’s the thing: this isn’t simply about information or education. Fighting vaccine hesitancy in this age of fake news and social media isn’t as easy as laying out facts and assuming people will listen to us because we are doctors. This isn’t just about information or education; it’s about building trust—and about taking a stand.”
Child Care Aware of America posted an article by Andres Roszak about the important role that child care providers can play in improving the health of their young charges, and the larger community:
“[A]study examined data from the 2010-2014 flu season and found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by 65 percent in healthy children and 51 percent in children with high-risk medical conditions.
“Despite overwhelming support and demonstrated benefit, more than 2 million preschoolers have not received the recommended vaccinations. Sadly, an estimated 1,000 children and 45,000 adults die each year from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. As a child care provider you have an opportunity to help change these statistics. As a trusted resource for parents, take time to discuss the importance of childhood immunization with the families you serve.”
The list of NIIW-related posts is a rich resource for parents with questions, and immunization supporters who seek new ways to advocate for vaccination. You’ll find links to all of the CDC’s listed blog posts here.
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