All Actions Have Consequences
by Dr. Andrew Pugliese
I had a great response to an article I posted on Twitter that is on ABC News about a Pediatrician that went before Congress regarding the need to vaccinate because his son had been exposed to measles while fighting Leukemia.
@220Amoma4 As the mother of a medically frail child who can’t receive any live vaccines, I can relate. I understand those who feel vaccines are being forced on them, I do. Today’s outbreaks are clear we need help to save lives.
What we’re seeing here are the unintended consequences of not vaccinating children for highly communicable childhood illnesses. The biggest problem that we’re facing is increasing worldwide travel and we’re actually seeing what epidemiologists were concerned about 30 years ago, which was as travel became more accessible, pandemics (worldwide epidemics) would become more likely.
When enough parents elect not to vaccinate their children today, and the likelihood of them being exposed to other children from other countries increases, it is easy to see how what is happening today is occurring. The probability of the outbreaks occurring increase as more and more parents elect not to vaccinate their children. In the past, parents who elected not to vaccinate their children were safe because over 95% of the other parents did vaccinate their children. However, with the growing popularity of parents not vaccinating their children, based on a lack of understanding that when the number of children vaccinated falls below 92%, this is where the risk of epidemics begins.
In San Francisco, officials are concerned that tens of thousands of people have now been exposed to measles due to one infected individual who traveled for three days on the Bay Area’s rapid transit system with active measles. How many people will develop measles will be directly proportional to the number of people who are not immune to measles that were exposed.
Other unintended consequences of not vaccinating children occur as they become teenagers and young adults. If unvaccinated, when these young adults travel or become exposed to measles or other illnesses, such as mumps and rubella, they will have no immunity to these diseases. Young adult males who develop mumps can become sterile. Pregnant women with no immunity to rubella run the risk of having miscarriages or stillbirths. Also, it should be pointed out that the fetuses of mothers infected with rubella run the risk of giving birth to children with birth defects such as hearing loss, heart disease, and cataracts.
As I have said before, there are many people alive today that would have been dead fifty years ago, and this is due to the great advancements of medical technology over the last century. It would be a shame to be able to beat cancer or some other potentially life-threatening illness, only to succumb to some easily preventable illness because parents refuse to vaccinate their children and run the risk of causing unforeseen consequences for their children later in life based on fear and a lack of understanding. No system is perfect and many parents today are unaware of the devastation of childhood outbreaks of yesteryear, but as we are seeing, the probability is against us when we don’t vaccinate.