We firmly believe in the effectiveness and safety of our vaccines to prevent serious illness and to save lives and fully subscribe to the standard of medical care as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Specifically, all children and young adults should receive each of the recommended vaccines according to the schedule published by these organizations. Based on all available literature, evidence, and current studies, we are confident that these vaccines do not cause autism or other developmental disabilities. We also firmly believe that thimerosal, a preservative that had been in vaccines for decades and currently remains in a few vaccines, similarly does not cause autism or other developmental disabilities.
Vaccinating children and young adults to prevent diseases specific to each vaccine may be the single most important health-promoting intervention we perform as health care providers, and that you can perform as parents/caregivers. Therefore, it is the policy of the CDC, AAP, and our practice to vaccinate all children.
These things being said, we recognize that there has always been and will likely always be controversy surrounding vaccination. In a way, the vaccine campaign may be a victim of its own success. Over the last fifty years vaccines have been so effective at preventing illnesses, many people have never seen a child with polio, tetanus, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis or even chickenpox. Unlike previous generations, most people have never known a friend or family member whose child died of one of these diseases. Perhaps this is why there is complacency about vaccinating against these terrible and previously all too common illnesses. We feel very strongly that such an attitude has and will continue to lead to tragic results.
For example, over the past several years, many people in Europe have chosen not to vaccinate their children with the MMR vaccine after publication of an unfounded suspicion (later retracted) that the vaccine caused autism. As a result of under-immunization, Europe has endured small outbreaks of measles over the past several years, including several deaths from complications of this highly preventable disease.
In the United States, we are not immune to the effect of these outbreaks. Nor is the danger specific to measles. With increased travel and immigration from disease prevalent areas, we have seen outbreaks within our own country and unimmunized children are the most likely to suffer from potentially severe or deadly outcomes. This is consistent with recent outbreaks in which only unimmunized children have been affected.
Furthermore, by delaying and/or not vaccinating your child, you are taking advantage of thousands of others who do vaccinate their children. For while their vaccinations decrease the likelihood that your child will contract one of these diseases from them, his or her unimmunized state poses an increased risk to other patients whom they may encounter in our office.
This policy statement is in no way intended to scare or coerce you. But we feel it is important for you to fully understand the importance of vaccinating your child. As medical professionals, we feel very strongly that vaccinating children on schedule with currently available vaccines is absolutely the right thing to do for all children and young adults. Thank you for your time in reading this policy, and please feel free to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about vaccines with any one of us.
Barry Altshuler, MD
Chuck Braverman, MD
Mary Collins, MD
Mary Jo Gawronski, DO
Kirsten Kershaw, MD
Ann Minciotti, MD
Angeline Zarzuela, MD