Wayfaring MD

I am a family medicine resident who likes to highlight the hilarious in medicine as I write about patients, medical school, residency, medical missions, and whatever else strikes my fancy.



Disclaimer:
HIPAA is for reals, folks. All of my "patient stories" have been changed to protect patient privacy. I will change any or all identifiers, including age, location, race/ethnicity, sex, medical history, and quotes.
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How do you deal with or have you ever encountered parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children? - anon

I hesitate to even respond to this question because I know I’m going to get some hate mail on it, but yes, I have. These people are everywhere. I honestly don’t understand it. The “theories” out there that people use to support alternative vaccination schedules or not vaccinating at all are shaky at best.

For example, the supposed vaccine/autism link? The people who originally released those “studies” admitted they were fraudulent. New, legitimate studies have continued to back up the safety of vaccines. 

The “I don’t want to expose my kid’s immune system to so much stuff” theory: crap.

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If your kid has been to Walmart or daycare or has played in a sandbox, I GUARANTEE they have been exposed to more germs and antigens in those short instances than they are when they get a shot of a killed, broken down virus. Babies explore new objects by putting them in their mouths. You think they’re not licking up millions of germs a day? Think again. The whole point of exposing the kid to these antigens is to strengthen the immune system so that when they come into contact with truly dangerous diseases, they have some defense against them. 

The “my kid’s safe because of herd immunity” argument: also BS.

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You can’t have herd immunity if the herd refuses to be immunized. In some areas of the country, herd immunity is definitely waning. 

The “those diseases really aren’t that bad” argument: really?

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Meningitis can cause irreversible brain damage or kill your kid. Mumps can make lil Johnny deaf or sterile. Rubella in pregnant women causes a HOST of birth defects (Actually many of these diseases we immunize against can cause increased rates of miscarriage or birth defects). Hemophilus influenza can lead to pneumonias causing hypoxia and, you guessed it, death. Even the chicken pox that many of us had as children can cause pneumonia and encephalitis.

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My own neice, who was born the year before the varicella vaccine came out, developed varicella pneumonia at 3 days old (my sister, an elementary school teacher, got the chicken pox just before delivering her) and nearly died. Sure, in the typical “healthy” child, many of these diseases can be managed well. But in newborn infants, who have very little immunity yet, or the child with co-morbidities, like asthma or diabetes, they can be particularly deadly.

And don’t even get me STARTED on flu shots. 

 How do I deal with these parents? I tell them the same things I just said above (in more gentle terms, of course). I give the same risk/benefit balance talk that I would give someone who was about to undergo a surgical procedure. Sure, there is some risk involved with taking something foreign and putting it in the body, but the benefit of having immunity to diseases like bacterial meningitis, diphtheria, and mumps greatly outweighs the risk.  I also explain that vaccinated children miss less school because of illness. That means less time mama has to take off from work to take care of lil Suzie, less catch up work Suzie has to do, and less risk to the other kids in Suzie’s class. 

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    "…or the child with co-morbidities…"like childhood cancer
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    this guy’s blog. And also,...don’t get why people are so against vaccines. The number
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