PIP Vaccine Philosophy
PIP Vaccine Philosophy
Many of our families express to us their uncertainty, confusion, and general discomfort with vaccinations. There are many myths about vaccinations, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction. The most common concern centers on whether or not vaccines can cause autism which is a serious disorder of mental development. Another common concern is that the diseases prevented by vaccines aren't really significant public health threats. This belief is due, in part, to the fact that most new parents have never seen or had any experience with any of these diseases. One reason for this lack of familiarity is, as infectious disease experts correctly point out, due to the effectiveness vaccines have had in eliminating these diseases. The confusion is further complicated by the fact that the myths and misinformation are given validity by internet web sites and chat rooms that create a sense of scientific fact around what really amounts to individual opinions, fears and anecdotal personal experience.
We recognize that this confusion creates a certain degree of fear in parents who aren't sure how to go about making such a complicated decision. This decision involves a vast amount of scientific information as well as voluminous and passionate non-scientific opinions. It is our desire to support you and partner with you through the process of making this decision. Hopefully, we can provide you with perspectives that will help you to navigate these frightening waters. However, we must all recognize that an absolute moment of certainty about the future never comes. For all of us, we must inform ourselves to the maximum extent possible and then take a leap of faith, based on love and intuition.
In order to assist you in making a good decision about vaccinations, we will first discuss what it is that makes up the nature of a good decision. A decision is good or bad according to how it is made. If you do your due diligence in informing yourself about an issue and then take a leap of faith, you have made a good decision, regardless of the outcome. For example, if a person investing in the stock market selected a stock on a whim with almost no information about the company, and the stock tripled in value, most people would say that it was a good decision. We would say that this was a bad decision with a good outcome. If someone else who has investigated a company very thoroughly, invested in its stock and, due to some unexpected bad news, the stock plummeted in value, people might say that this was a bad decision. We would say it was good a decision with a bad outcome. What makes a decision good or bad has nothing to do with the outcome because the person making the decision cannot possibly know what the outcome will be and therefore cannot factor the outcome into the decision.
What most parents are trying to figure out with vaccinations is how to secure the safest future for their child. However, no amount of intellectual knowledge increases one's ability to predict a future event. Imagine a person memorizing all of the past winning number combinations of a power-ball lottery. He would still have no better chance of selecting the next winning lottery combination than someone who knows nothing about the past winning numbers. So it is clear that no amount of knowledge will actually help someone determine what the future holds.
We are not suggesting that you should be uninformed about vaccines and the diseases that they prevent. On the contrary, we believe the more you know the more comfortable you will be with your decision and the outcome. However, there is such an extensive body of knowledge about vaccines that for us to educate our parents thoroughly is beyond the scope of our well child care visits. This is a task you must take on and accomplish for yourself. For that reason we will give you handouts to read that give a good overview of each vaccine and the disease or diseases it is intended to prevent. If you wish to read more, it is our recommendation that you visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site (cdc.gov) and go to the section on vaccines. Another valuable resource is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) web site (aap.org) which also contains an extensive section on vaccines. These two resources contain a tremendous amount of information that supports the current immunization schedule.
Many parents will read something that discusses the negative sides of vaccines. Our most important advice to you in this regard is that you stay away from the internet as many of the resources there are not responsible in their discussions and claims.
It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss all of the scientific support for vaccinating your child. One thing which can be said unequivocally is that an immunized community is significantly safer from a communicable disease than a community which is not immunized. The risk to the community from immunizing itself against a particular infectious disease is dramatically less than the risk which that disease poses to the unimmunized community. The fact that significantly more children will be harmed by an epidemic in an unvaccinated population than would ever have been harmed by the vaccinations, is the basis on which public health officials make their recommendations to vaccinate everyone. While this fact may comfort these officials in making their recommendations, it doesn't comfort those parents whose children suffered significant adverse effects from being vaccinated. This is why there is a controversy.
In our experience, parents fall into one of three basic categories. The majority of our families are so comfortable with their knowledge of vaccines and/or conventional medical science that they elect to vaccinate according to the recommended schedule. Second, there are those parents who after doing more research are still unsettled and many of them either do a partial vaccine program (taking the ones they feel the strongest about) or they may delay starting the vaccines to a later date. Finally there are those who, after their investigation, feel most comfortable with no vaccines at all.
The laws which govern parents in Colorado allow you to determine your own personal course of action with vaccines. However the laws which govern physicians require us to recommend the full vaccine schedule as designed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) under the auspices of the CDC.
We deeply respect each individual parent's right to choose how to proceed with vaccinating their children. If you decide to do anything less than the recommended schedule, we will require that you sign an informed consent waiver which clarifies that your decision and its risks are solely your responsibility and that we are not accountable for any adversity should your child suffer from a disease for which there is a vaccination. If you do elect to do a delayed start to the vaccines or a partial vaccination program, we then consider it an ethical contract on your part, as the parents, to insure that the vaccines are administered on the schedule. We will help to create a schedule with you which may involve office visits that are not on the regular "Well Child Care" schedule. We allow parents to alter the starting time of the vaccine but mandate that you stay on the correct administration schedule once you have begun.
Finally, we would like to suggest one last thought. Vaccines, despite all of the controversy, have saved thousands of lives and many more thousands of permanent adversities. Once you decide to vaccinate your child, embrace the vaccination as a gift of nature and science. Help us place it into your child's body with the same loving energy you would give to your child while feeding them. In our opinion both you and your child will respond more favorably to the vaccine with this kind of loving energy.
We know that this is a big decision and we hope that this discussion will help by at least giving you a perspective and a framework within which to make this decision. We hope you arrive at a comfortable decision and wish you good luck in the process.
Partners In Pediatrics