​Trump, vaccinations and ... uh oh!

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Between back to school nights and bedtimes, I was able to watch only a part of the Republican debate last night. Unfortunately, the part I did see was enough to keep me up, and still has me reeling. I imagine doctors everywhere share my concern.

In light of the recent measles outbreak, the moderator, Jake Tapper, posed a question about vaccinations. My initial reaction to this was, "Great. With two doctors on the stage (Paul and Carson,) there is bound to be some authoritative light shed on this important issue." Instead, Donald Trump, a man with no MD after his name, and no scientific training, spoke up about the dangers of vaccine and the link between vaccines and autism.

My stomach sank. Mr. Trump sent us back at least ten years in the fight to educate the public about the safety and necessity of vaccination. As the frontrunner, Trump has the attention and respect of lots of Americans. For some, it will not matter there is an enormous body of evidence disproving any link between vaccines and autism. It will not matter vaccines are one of the most miraculous discoveries of our time. Fear, especially where our children are concerned, has a tendency to prevail. He opined the current immunization schedule is unsafe, and vaccines should be spaced out.

I worry too many Americans heard, "vaccine and autism" and that will be enough to destroy any headway doctors have made in the fight to vaccinate all children. It has taken years to coax well-meaning parents out of their ignorant fears about vaccines. Trump may have very well sent them right back to that scary place.

My stomach sank further still when both Carson and Paul, who know better, succumbed to political rhetoric and did not defend the vaccination schedule, which, after extensive research taking into account side effects, safety and efficacy, the American Academy of Pediatrics has put forth. The vaccination schedule exists for a reason. The schedule is critically important as it protects children when they are most vulnerable. There is no body of evidence to support spacing out a child's immunizations.

Here are the facts the evidence does support:
  • Vaccination saves 2-3 million lives each year.
  • According to numerous scientific studies, vaccines do not cause autism.
  • Vaccines have eradicated small pox and have come very close to eradicating polio.
  • Diseases like bacterial meningitis, measles, hepatitis and tetanus can cause serious lifelong disability and death. Without vaccines to prevent them, we would see these diseases emerge in our country in a short time.
  • The most common side effects of immunization are mild and self-limited.
  • The vaccine schedule is well researched, adequately tested and sound.

More from Dr. Karen
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