Families shunning inoculations

17 March 2008

On 2 March 2008 the New York Times ran an article entitled “More Families are Shunning Inoculations“. With states requiring more immunizations, parents are using religious exemptions to refuse the vaccines.

And why would these parents wish to risk that their children contract potentially fatal diseases, such as polio, measles, and pneumonia, which can be readily prevented? Is it because they believe that vaccines will cause autism? If so, they are wrong, because there is zero evidence that immunization causes autism. Apparently many parents simply want a “choice. THEY wish to decide what is good for their children. As one mother put it, “This is America; you don’t force it on everybody.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to vaccines, you can’t simply make a choice, unless you understand how immunizations work. And clearly many parents do not understand.

Immunization levels must be high to achieve complete protection against infection. For example, transmission of polio within a population will continue unless immunization rates over 95 percent are achieved. Parents who choose not to immunize their children place other children at risk for infection.

Immunization is not just about protecting your child. It is about protecting the entire population.

My letter to the NY Times on this topic was published on 9 March.