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Home > Medical Services > Pediatrics > Keeping Your Child Healthy > Protect Your Child & Your Community: Vaccinate
Published on March 26, 2019
Imagine driving down the road with your child in the back seat. Are you picturing them in a car seat? Or with their seatbelt buckled? Probably so.
That’s because you care about their safety. Most of the time, nothing will happen. But, if you did get into an accident, you’d want them to be protected, right?
The car seat analogy is part of the conversation Mercy Pediatric Clinic’s Padget Skogman, MD, FAAP, has with parents about vaccines if they seem unsure about whether to vaccinate their children.
“You wouldn’t put your child in a vehicle without a car seat or seatbelt,” she said. “So, why would you take the risk with diseases that could take their life?”
Vaccines top the list of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) top 10 health achievements of the 20th century – and for good reason.
That’s three times more lives saved than by seatbelts and car seats combined. (Sources: CDC and NHTSA)
For example, when disease reporting began in the early 1900s, about 6,000 people died of measles each year. Vaccines were developed and refined during the 1950s and 1960s. By 1981, reports showed an 80% decline in measles and, in 2000, it was declared eliminated from the United States.
However, a recent surge in anti-vaccination sentiment has undone some of that progress. From January 1 through March 21, 2019, 314 individual cases of measles were confirmed in 15 states.
Padget Skogman,MD, FAAP
“Vaccines save lives,” Dr. Skogman said. “They protect all of us, especially our very vulnerable situations like preemies and babies who are too young to be vaccinated yet, or people with compromised immune systems or conditions such as childhood cancer.”
Study after study reiterates this “herd immunity” concept. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only clean water performs better than vaccination in reducing infectious diseases.
Unfortunately, the anti-vax movement has picked up steam in recent years, thanks to pop culture.
“When parents go looking, they find a lot of inaccurate information and fear the side effects of vaccines,” Dr. Skogman said. “But, the benefits far outweigh any risks.”
“I would be putting your child in danger by not taking a stance on vaccines,” she added. “I recommend vaccinations like I recommend car seats or life jackets or sunscreen – all are essential for a healthy life.”
Dr. Skogman’s colleague, Mercy Pediatrician Scott Nau, MD, FAAP, has been in practice long enough to clearly see the influence vaccines have had.
“No one in this community has seen more healthy children die from vaccine-preventable diseases, sometimes in less than 24 hours, than I have, back when vaccines had not yet been developed,” he said. “In my 40 years of practice, I have not seen a single person who has had a permanent, adverse effect from a vaccination.”
In 2015, California ended personal-belief exemptions for childhood vaccines, which allowed parents to send their children to school unvaccinated. Now, only a doctor can provide a medical reason for why it would be unsafe for the child to be vaccinated.
Within two years, the percentage of kindergarteners with all required immunizations went from 90.4% to 95.1%.
Scott Nau,MD, FAAP
Dr. Nau praised the California decision.
“Unvaccinated people don’t have a right to go to our schools or our office and infect others,” he said. “We have a responsibility to protect our newborns and at-risk patients.”
Dr. Skogman said that, locally, she had not seen any vaccine objections for religious reasons; they have all been for philosophical reasons.
However, according to the Linn County Public Health Department, around 30% of home schooled children in Marion have claimed a vaccine exemption – an alarmingly high rate.
“There is nothing worse than a child dying,” Dr. Nau said. “People will die if this continues.”
For those skeptical of doctors pushing vaccines, Dr. Skogman clarified that they do not get reimbursements or anything else from drug companies for vaccinating patients.
She also debunked the conspiracy theory that the government is infecting citizens.
“No studies have shown any sort of government involvement in vaccines,” she said.
Dr. Nau added that vaccines are now purified, which means the number of proteins used to create the vaccine has gone down. This makes it even less likely to have a local reaction or fever.
You wouldn’t skip the car seat or seatbelt – your Mercy and MercyCare providers urge you not to skip the recommended vaccinations, either.