Drs. Roseman, Desouza, McHugh, and Dubelman
There is in the United States a debate that sadly has troubled the hearts and minds of the American people. The safety of the many vaccines we offer young children has been called into question. In many respects, we have become the victims of our success. Most parents are too young to realize the seriousness of the illness we are successfully preventing.
Before the Polio vaccines of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Polio paralyzed close to 40,000 people each year, including President Roosevelt, and killed 1,700. The American people were gripped with fear and closed down movie theaters and swimming pools, trying to prevent the spread of Polio. Before 1991, HIB disease (Hemophilus Influenza, type B) was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis killing many and seriously wounding and deafening others. Thanks to the vaccine, we have not seen a case in our practice since 1991. In a similar vein, many people have never heard of measles encephalitis, let alone seen a case. Yet 1% of every child in the United States acquired this dread disease and either died or was mentally damaged. The measles vaccine has virtually eliminated this terrible scourge to our country.
True, none of these diseases has completely disappeared, but at the present time the United States is Polio-free, HIB has all but been eliminated, measles has been severely curtailed and diphtheria is almost a disease of the past. So it is with Rotavirus gastrointestinal infections, pneumococcal meningitis and mumps. It is precisely because the vaccines we use have been so effective that our citizens have the luxury of debating their safety. Sadly, many uninformed and poorly trained professional people have entered the debate scaring our patients and leading many to alter or abandon vaccine schedules.
We firmly believe in the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines we offer your children and we are thankful that we live in a time when these diseases have been significantly reduced. We join with the American Academy of Pediatrics and all reputable medical organizations in endorsing these vaccines and the schedules recommended. Fears of autism and other developmental disorders have been proved to be unfounded. Vaccinating your children with the available vaccines in the proper recommended order is essential in your child’s health and the health of our community.
Carol Ann McHugh
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