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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Celebrities, Vaccines, and Preventable Diseases

Reality show TV star Kristin Cavallari says that she won't vaccinate her children because of the "scary statistics" about autism.

Dr. Swati Bhobi writes at Crain's Chicago Business:
In our practice, which is a public health facility, we encounter a handful of parents who refuse all vaccines based on their religious beliefs or their concerns about the safety of vaccines, which has been stroked by celebrity opponents. Invariably the concern about autism and the measles vaccine is the biggest roadblock we encounter in these parents,
What we have also noticed is that the most resistance to vaccinations typically comes from second- or third-generation Americans. They have not witnessed firsthand the devastation inflicted by diseases like measles, but they have seen a child or two with autism — which makes them more wary of autism than measles. They also happen to be very Internet-savvy, and many are followers of celebrities who crusade against immunizations. 
My own experience with such parents is that they do come around with gentle reminders about the horrors inflicted by these once-dreaded diseases in not-so-fortunate nations of the world. As a health care provider, I always remind the parents that these now-rare diseases conquered by the universal vaccination success in the country can still come to haunt them — and sadly, most physicians trained in this country may not even be able to recognize them in a timely fashion because these illnesses are so rare now.