The physicians, providers and staff of Alliance Pediatrics state the following:
- We firmly believe in the effectiveness of vaccines to prevent serious illness and to save lives.
- We firmly believe in the safety of our vaccines.
- We firmly believe that all children and young adults should receive all of the recommended vaccines according to the schedule published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- We firmly believe, based on all available literature, research evidence, and current studies, that vaccines do not cause autism or other developmental disabilities.
- We firmly understand that thimerosal, a preservative that has been in vaccines for decades and remains in some vaccines, does not cause autism or other developmental disabilities.
- We firmly believe that vaccinating children and young adults may be the single most important health-promoting intervention we perform as health care providers, and that you can perform as parents/caregivers.
The recommended vaccines and their schedule given are the results of years and years of scientific study and data gathering on millions of children by thousands of our brightest scientists and physicians. These things being said, we recognize that there has always been and will likely always be controversy surrounding vaccination. Indeed, Benjamin Franklin, persuaded by his brother, was opposed to smallpox vaccine until scientific data convinced him otherwise. Tragically, he had delayed inoculating his son, Franky, who contracted smallpox and died at the age of 4, leaving Ben with a lifetime of guilt and remorse.
Quoting Mr. Franklin’s autobiography: “In 1736, I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the smallpox… I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it, my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.”
The vaccine campaign is truly a victim of its own success. It is precisely because vaccines are so effective at preventing illness that we are even discussing whether or not they should be given. Because of vaccines, many of you have never seen a child with polio, tetanus, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis, or even chickenpox, or known a friend or family member whose child died of one of these diseases. Unfortunately, Dr. Martin has. “I have worked feverishly to keep a child alive from a disease that could have been prevented by vaccination. This occurred during my year of fellowship in critical care, and I have been unsuccessful…and not just once. I have looked into the parents eyes and seen grief that still haunts me today. ”
The success of vaccinations can make us complacent about vaccinating. But such an attitude, if it becomes widespread, can only lead to tragic results. After publication of an unfounded accusation (later retracted) that MMR vaccine caused autism in 1998, many people in Europe chose not to vaccinate their children. As a result of under-immunization, there were large outbreaks of measles, with several deaths from complications of the disease. In 2010 there were more than 3000 cases of whooping cough in California, with nine deaths in children less than six months of age. Again, many of those who contracted the illness (and then passed it on to the infants, who were too young to have been fully vaccinated) had made a conscious decision not to vaccinate. Right now, the fact that everyone else gets vaccines protects those that do not or those in whom the vaccine does not work (about 10-20% of cases). This “herd immunity” is what has kept some illnesses from becoming epidemics. Once the vaccine rate drops below 90%, we will start to see diseases that we have not see in 20-50 years. The last information that we have read was that we are at about 93% vaccine rates.
We are making you aware of these facts not to scare you or concern you, but to emphasize the importance of vaccinating your child. We recognize that the choice may be a very emotional one for some parents. We will do everything we can to convince you that vaccinating according to the schedule is the right thing to do. However, should you have doubts, please discuss these with your health care provider in advance of your visit. We request that you come in for a consultation visit to discuss this, as we have a large number of things to discuss each visit. We cannot give an appropriate discussion to both vaccines and the important aspects normal health and development in a single visit. In some cases, we may alter the schedule to accommodate parental concerns or reservations. Please be advised, however, that delaying or “breaking up the vaccines” to give one or two at a time over two or more visits goes against expert recommendations, and can put your child at risk for serious illness (or even death) and goes against our medical advice as providers at Alliance Pediatrics.
Such additional visits will require additional co-pays on your part. Furthermore, please realize that you will be required to sign a “Refusal to Vaccinate” acknowledgement form and will be given an “Understanding Risks and Responsibilities” form with each visit that you use an alternate schedule. While we do not “fire” patients for refusing to vaccination, we will continually advise you to vaccinate your child with all of the recommended vaccines. If you wish to know more about your vaccines, we are glad to discuss them with you. We study information and research on vaccines regularly and this provides us with the confidence to recommend them. As a colleague of mine once said “I don’t go talk to the baker when I want a fence built”. This is our area of expertise. We are not movie stars, actors, politicians or celebrities. We care for children and vaccines are one of the best ways to prevent illness and death. If you ever wondered why many pediatricians get upset with people that refuse to vaccine, think of things this way. How would you like it if someone came to your place of work and told you that you “don’t really understand what you are doing”? This is especially irritating when your “research “consists of looking at a few website blogs or reading a couple of books.
Our providers will not discuss which vaccines are the most important for you to get on the day of your visit, as they are all important and the answer would always be “All of them”. We do not keep a list of providers that do not advise routine vaccine, nor would we recommend any such physician.
Please recognize that by not vaccinating you are putting your child at unnecessary risk for life-threatening illness and disability, and even death. As medical professionals, we feel very strongly that vaccinating children on schedule with currently available vaccines is absolutely the right thing to do for all children and young adults. Thank you for your time in reading this policy, and please feel free to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about vaccines with any one of us.
Bruce D. Martin, MD