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Healthcare Community Stands Firm: Pediatric Vaccines Save Lives

APR 29, 2016 | BRIAN P. DUNLEAVY
“I did not have the chance to see the movie yet, but anti-vaccination movements have been on the rise even before this movie [was released],” Christine Salvatore, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center told Contagion™. “The majority of supporters of the anti-vaccination groups are too young to have lived in the era when infectious diseases such as polio were one of the biggest causes of morbidity and mortality. Infant and children mortality and morbidity has dramatically improved due to the benefits of vaccines. Educating new parents and trying to re-educate parents who have “converted” to the non-vaccination movements has become a major commitment for pediatricians, because our children should look forward without the fear of these potentially dangerous infections.”
 
In 2011, the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society issued a position statement on PBEs that, among other recommendations, suggested that children who are unvaccinated for measles and/or mumps (or any other vaccine-preventable infection) due to their (or their parents’) beliefs on the issue, should be “barred” from all school-related activities when/if there is an outbreak of the disease. In general, the society “opposes any legislation or regulation that would allow children to be exempted from mandatory immunizations based simply on their parents’, or, in the case of adolescents, their own, secular personal beliefs.”
 
The statement also notes that, “Most parents who refuse vaccines for their children do so because they think vaccines may be harmful or that their children are not at risk from vaccine- preventable diseases. Their concerns are fueled by inaccurate reports in the media and on the Internet, celebrity hype, and bad or fraudulent scientific data. Parents are proximate victims of this misinformation… The ultimate victims, however, are the children, who in some cases have lost their lives to diseases that could have been prevented.”
 
Although, “Vaxxed” was not shown during the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival, it is currently playing in theaters nationally and is scheduled to continue doing so through at least the end of May. It is likely that the controversy surrounding the film and its subject matter will persist long beyond its final showing—whenever that may be.
 
Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition.
 
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