The recent letters against vaccination/immunization from my health-care colleagues make me wonder about their critical thinking, and professional responsibility and accountability.
Are they ready to accept responsibility for the health problems that result when someone contracts a disease as a result of their "information" that could have been prevented by immunization?
As health-care professionals, we are required to assure that people make "informed" decisions. This means reporting information that is obtained from research that has reliability and validity. This in turn requires using critical thinking skills. It also means looking at the long-term data, which would include; disease prevalence, disease incidence, before and after vaccination.
To allow informed consent, I would consult with experts in the field and practitioners of health promotion and disease prevention, not some doctor of anthropology or scientist who wants to sell books or some product.
It is interesting to note that with the turn off the century, the factor that was determined to have had the greatest positive effect on heath in the 20th century was immunization.
Yes, sometimes people have adverse reactions to immunizations as there can be with any medication or food we ingest.
Following the logic of the aforementioned writers, one would also refrain from taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection.
There must be an informed weighing of the risks verses the benefits. Adverse events related to immunizations have, for many years, a very detailed tracking system within the public health-care system so that any consistent event can be quickly seen and addressed.
As to healthy living and good hand washing, certainly, they are important factors, but once a bacteria or virus enters the body and "sets up shop," your immune system's ability to produce antibodies is the next line of defence.
Immunization "primes" the system so it is ahead of the game when the real thing comes along.
A whole generation has not been witness to many of the diseases for which we receive immunization. Unfortunately, this has resulted in complacency and false beliefs for some. One only has to look to Third World countries where immunization rates are poor to see the devastating effects of these preventable diseases.
With increased world travel, the transmission of disease is still a major threat.
Finally, immunization is as much for our own protection as it is for the more vulnerable who we as health-care professionals are in contact with. Personally, the risks of a few minor side-effects associated with a vaccine such as the flu outweigh the risks of the possibility that I transmit the flu to my vulnerable clients.
As a retired PHN, mother and grandmother, had I ever found any data to support immunization as more dangerous than the disease risk, I could not have continued in my work from a moral, ethical and legal respective.