Vaccines save lives

Forgoing childhood immunization is a harmful middle-class phenomenon

The resurgence of whooping cough, a deadly disease that is entirely preventable through the use of vaccination, is a shame. Even worse is the evidence that the very people who ought to know better—well-educated, middle-class Californians—make up the majority of those forgoing vaccination for their children.

All of this stems from an incredibly uninformed and fearful belief that vaccination causes damage. Parents fear that children will get sick from the vaccines; that there are chemicals and preservatives in the vaccines that will harm them; that, given the reduction in “childhood” illnesses like measles, mumps and whooping cough, vaccination is no longer necessary.

Thimerosal, the most-feared preservative, has never been found to cause more than a local hypersensitivity reaction—that is, swelling at the injection site. It’s no longer present in most vaccines given to children younger than 6 (with the exception of influenza vaccines, which are available in a preservative-free form, and in trace amounts in two DTaP vaccines), and hasn’t been for more than a decade.

The vaccine-autism link, which has caused so much fear, was cited in one study that was retracted because the researcher falsified results. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have found no causal relationship not only on that theory but also on one linking the neurological disorder to the administration of too many vaccines too early in a child’s life.

That’s it. The scientifically soundest preventive medicine we have is vaccination. Yes, there is a small risk of serious vaccine reaction; a few hundred cases are adjudicated each year in federal court. But, overall, vaccines are largely safe and effective.

Don’t wait until it’s your child struggling to breathe—anyone who has ever heard the signature sound of a child gasping with whooping cough will never forget it. The reason so many vaccinations are recommended for children is because they save lives. Educate, vaccinate and keep children healthy.