Vaccines: Friend or Foe?

Measles outbreak renews controversial debate

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Vaccines: Friend or Foe?

Child getting vaccinated.
Image courtesy of Pediatric Associates

Child getting vaccinated. Image courtesy of Pediatric Associates

Child getting vaccinated. Image courtesy of Pediatric Associates

Child getting vaccinated. Image courtesy of Pediatric Associates

Bradon Williams, Business & Circulation Manager

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New York City declared a measles public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn to contain the spread in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.  New cases of the measles like this have popped up around the United States heating up the much debated issue of whether children should be vaccinated from a number of childhood diseases. Now officials are concerned about whether an outbreak could occur here.

Local medical professionals say vaccines are necessary to prevent the spread of contagious and potentially life-threatening diseases from reaching epidemic proportions. Yet some parents believe that the risks associated with vaccines are too great to ignore, and refuse to have their children vaccinated.

Lancaster pediatrician, Jennifer Miller says many parents are under misconceptions that vaccines will lead to Autism, or that the flu vaccine can actually cause the flu.

Jennifer Miller, MD
Image courtesy of
Pediatric Associates

“Neither of those misconceptions have been found to be true,” she said.

“There have been multiple studies on the safety of vaccines, and none show a true link or cause and effect relationship with Autism.”

Fear of contracting a childhood disease that may lead to other medical complications inspired Ethan Lindenberger, an 18-year-old from Newark, Ohio, to defy his parents and get vaccinated on his own.

“I grew up in an [anti-vaccination] household, my mom didn’t believe that vaccines were beneficial to the health and safety of society, and believed that they cause Autism, brain damage and other complications. This has been largely debunked by the scientific community,” he said in a YouTube video.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “most childhood vaccines are 90%-99% effective in preventing disease.” Despite this, some parents worry about the possible side effects of these vaccines, because the CDC, has stated that vaccines carry some risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction in about one out of a million children.

What these parents fail to consider, is the fact that vaccines do much more good than harm.

“Vaccines are a very important part of routine healthcare,” said Dr. Miller.

Mike Ryan supports
vaccinating children.

“Vaccines help to prevent common infections such as pertussis, tetanus, chicken pox, measles, etc. They have even helped eradicate certain diseases like polio around the world — We are very fortunate that advances in science and medicine have led to safe and effective vaccines for disease prevention,” she said.

When vaccines are first developed they go through rigorous testing and safety trials before they are introduced to the general population. Even after a vaccine has become commonly recommended and part of the standard vaccine schedule, it continues to be monitored for reported adverse consequences, said Dr. Miller.

Lancaster High School teacher and parent, Mike Ryan says he vaccinated his own children who are ages 21, 28, and two.

“Vaccinations are important for children’s health; it’s also the socially responsible thing to do,” he said.