Standing in the line at the Super Market I find myself regularly perusing the magazines that line the checkout counter. I know they are mostly fluff (all arts and leisure with a hearty splashing of Hollywood blah blah) but I can’t help myself…it’s there and so readily available. I only read the covers on the Hollywood blah blah magazines (I admittedly sift through articles from the home improvement and food mags), you know so I can keep up with the headlines of pop-culture LOL. Most days it’s a quick look with little to catch my attention for any longer than it takes to ring up my basket of groceries, but every once in a while I spot something that makes me look a bit more close, last night happened to be one of those nights. There staring back at me was a smiling Jenny McCarthy holding her son, whom she has claimed for many years, has autism as a result of infant vaccines. Head lining the picture “Vaccines” and “Autism” could be seen from 3 checkout counters over so I was moving on pretty quickly…before I realized what the full headline really was. According to the article Jenny McCarthy had stated in a TimeMagazine interview that her son may NOT have had Autism after all. Well, a day later that article is being picked a part and Jenny McCarthy is saying it isn’t true…but there is was before the public once again…the question of a link between Autism and Vaccines.
Here’s the truth. I took a double take at that article because I am a nurse…in fact I am a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and Pediatric nurse and I take childrens health very seriously. I have nieces and nephews and hundreds of patients whom I care very deeply about and seeing their wellfare placed in jeopardy over and over again without evidence drives me bonkers! I am all about questioning what we do in medicine because I know that questioning things is how we find great advancements. I know that when we break down what we are doing and why we are doing it- we learn. We learn that some things we have done for years (such as using alcohol swabs to dry umbilical cords)may no longer be necessary….we also learn that some things (such as oral suctioning to prevent pneumonia) continue to be prevelant and very necessary for the well being of those we care for. It is absolutely vital that we question our practices…BUT it is more important that we research and perform studies to answer our questions. We don’t simply question something, find a few similar cases and decide we have a grand factual finding. We have to break down hundreds if not thousands of cases; we have to look at the science and the written reports before we can come to a definitive conclusion.
As far as Vaccines go I have yet to see reports or studies or papers in medical journals which have clearly and scientifically linked Vaccines to Autism or any other illness similar….and I look regularly. As I said I have a large number of people who are counting on me to have their best interest in mind, and that includes looking to see what the latest research says before I walk into a room to ask a parent if they want me to vaccinate their infant or child.
Naturally after such an article was published and placed on stands in a wide variety of super markets there have been an outpouring of posts on facebook, twitter and personal blogs about childhood vaccines (both pro and con). In the interest of full disclosure I must admit I am pro-vaccine because I have found research to show its benefits and have not yet found any which can solidly refute it. In fact, the only one that came close was quashed quickly. Here’s the link to an article looking at the original publication which brought up Autism and Vaccines together. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136032/
This is a website I was told about by a parent of one of my patients. http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/growing-up-unvaccinated/ It is a parent run website/movement and I must admit I am very impressed with how professional it looks, the stories and honesty of those on it, as well as the fact that they clear all of their info with physicians and scientists before they report. It is very pro-vaccine…no hiding or pretending here. http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/growing-up-unvaccinated/
Finally…Information on vaccines from 2 organizations who dedicate their existance to finding the best practice for our worlds communities. Perhaps it is because I have friends who have worked for both of these organizations over the years (and who I know have spent countless hours in small reasearch tents in third world countries trying to find links and traits and cures)…but I trust them. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) http://www.who.int/topics/vaccines/en/ and the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm
Bottom Line – I’m not saying everyone needs to agree with me and run out and vaccinate your children…BUT I do think WE ALL need to make sure we stay well educated so we can make the most informed decisions possible.
Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Day!