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Vaccinations in the Spotlight Again


There has been a recent breakout of measles in the Chicago area, and also one in California. So that again raises the controversy about certain vaccinations and whether they are associated with autism or other neurological diseases.

That debate continues on even in spite of the fact that Dr. Wakefield in England, who originally published data showing a link between vaccines and autism and colitis, was later found to have faked his data, and was permanently banned from practicing medicine in the UK as a result [Wikipedia]. But he continues his campaign against vaccinations here in the U.S.

There are still many people (and several books) that say that vaccines are harmful. As a result, a number of parents choose to not have their children vaccinated at all.

On the other end of the spectrum is the mainstream medical community which advocates a gazillion vaccines be given at the same visit and at as early an age as possible. That includes giving vaccines to 11 year-old boys and girls to prevent a disease associated with sexual promiscuity (HPV).

As for me, I am more middle of the road. There are certain vaccines that I think make sense to be given on time, and others that can wait a bit or not be given at all.

For example, I think that MMR can be delayed until AFTER autism normally presents itself if the parents are still worried there might be a link between the two. But if your child is going to be in any daycare, you should give it on time, which is as early as a year. Otherwise, after age 3 is probably okay. A booster dose is given 3-5 years later. Interestingly, however, is that the outbreak at the Palatine daycare was in kids under 1 and they wouldn’t have gotten vaccinated anyway yet.

DPT, which protects against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus is best given at 2, 4, and 6 months. That is because whooping cough is not uncommon these days, and it can be deadly to an infant who can contract it from an infected adult. Note that 20-30% of adults with a cough more than 3 weeks duration actually have whooping cough. That, by the way, is why pertussis booster shots are now recommended for adults (including grandparents) so they don’t can’t give the disease to unimmunized infants. Diptheria and tetanus are rare diseases, but they are usually included with the pertussis.

Today’s risk of polio is extremely small. So the polio shot really does not have to be given in infancy. But the series of 4 shots will be required some time before the child enters school.

I think flu shots are pretty much a waste except for people with moderate to severe chronic illnesses especially respiratory illness.

Dr. William Epperly, Fellow American Academy of Family Practice
Fellow American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy
Member of Christian Medical and Dental Society.



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