It's been nearly twenty years since a single case of polio has been reported in the United States. Smallpox has been a distant memory in our country since the late 1940's, and the rest of the world hasn't seen an outbreak since the 1970's. Less than a dozen rubella, or German measles, cases here are reported annually. With these diseases greatly reduced or even eradicated, many parents ask practitioners at AAA Pediatrics in Woodbridge, VA, "Should my child even get vaccinated?" In a word, yes. Dr. Oscar Sugastti explain the importance of maintaining vaccination standards here:
Diseases can "hitch a ride"
While we have been fortunate in the United States to have virtually eliminated dangerous childhood diseases - like polio, diptheria and pertussis - other countries have not been able to maintain the same public health standards. This means people who travel to the United States from the countries that still deal with these diseases may unknowingly bring germs with them. There are also pockets of communities in America where modern medicine is forbidden. Those who are vulnerable or not vaccinated and come into contact with a carrier can be stricken with life-threatening illnesses as a result - illnesses that most pediatricians, including those at AAA Pediatrics in Woodbridge, have never had to treat.
"Herd immunity" isn't the answer
Many parents who are skeptical about vaccines believe that their unvaccinated children will be protected from disease by those who have received the recommended schedule of vaccines. This idea of "herd immunity" only works if the amount of vaccinated people in the population is over 95%. Unfortunately, with anti-vaccination propaganda on the rise, that percentage isn't applicable country-wide, with 26 states not meeting that standard as of 2014. Almost all kindergarteners (99.7%) in Mississippi, for example, have had the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. In Colorado, however, only 82% of kindergarteners have received it. The issue of "traveling diseases" comes back into play at this point.
The link between vaccines and autism?
Several years ago, a British study suggested there was a link between the ingredients in the combination MMR vaccine and autism, a developmental disorder causing lifelong social and mental problems. Despite the fact many other studies since have debunked this idea, it persists and frightens parents into avoiding vaccinations. Your Woodbridge pediatrician, like others in his field, believes this may be due to the fact that the symptoms of autism - in vaccinated children or otherwise - begin to develop at around a year old, the same time that the MMR vaccine is given. The correlation is simply coincidence.
If you'd like to talk with Dr. Sugastti further about vaccines for your children, we encourage you to give AAA Pediatrics in Woodbridge, VA a call to set up an appointment!