As a parent and as a scientist, it’s frightening.

I recently came across this article online:
In the article they report how outbreaks of pertussis (aka whooping cough) are spreading in Australia because vaccination rates are dropping below 85%.  That rate is frightening.  They are actually suggesting that new parents keep their infants in isolation to avoid exposing them to whooping cough.

Can you imagine living, housebound, in constant fear of your child contracting a potentially deadly infection?  I can’t, but I fear it will come to that.

Many people talk about how they believe one thing or another about vaccines.  I don’t believe anything about vaccines.  I have examined primary literature.  I have attended research talks by world renowned scientists in the field of vaccine development and infectious disease.  I have studied virology and microbiology.  I am the daughter of a public health/school nurse.  The preponderance of evidence is clear.  This evidence indicates that the risks associated with vaccines (allergic reaction, etc) are minuscule compared to the very real and substantial risk of contracting a vaccine-preventable illness.

The press and anti-vaccine fanatics like to present the ‘debate’ over vaccine safety and a debate.  There is a clear concensus amongst doctors that vaccines are effective and safe.  What better measure of their confidence that how they vaccinate their own children?  A study in the peer reviewed journal Pediatrics found that, “Ninety-three percent of the surveyed physicians agree with the current official vaccination recommendations and would apply them to their own children.”  93% vs 3% does not constitute a lively debate.  93% vs 3% is a clear consensus.

Unlike the multitudes, apparently, I am comfortable with the language and mechanism of the scientific method.  Scientists and doctors will vaccinate themselves and their children- indicating the level of confidence they have in the data- yet they will never say with 100% certainty that vaccines don’t cause autism.  That’s just not how the scientific method works.

There have been dozens of studies demonstrating the efficacy and safety of vaccines.  There are centuries of data proving the danger of vaccine-preventable illnesses.  The data indicating that vaccines cause autism?  Doesn’t exist- there is none.  The only data that ever existed were fraudulent .

As a scientist who has a BS in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and a doctorate in Molecular Biology from Ivy League universities, who has done research at several of the world’s preeminent research institutions:, who has studies virology and microbiology,  I have received many vaccinations,  I vaccinate my daughter per the CDC and AAP guidelines, I encourage my loved ones to do the same.

I recently wrote the following to a friend who is expecting her first child:

I just posted an article about whooping cough on my FB. I’m sure you and Andy are already swamped with baby preparations, but I wanted to get in my 2 cents regarding vaccinations.

Both you and Andy should get a DTaP shot before baby comes. Andy for sure, your doc may suggest waiting until after delivery. I did get mine while I was pregnant with Mabel mostly because the DTaP is for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (aka whooping cough)- and I needed the tetanus for a lab injury.  Studies have shown that most infants that get whooping cough (since they can’t be vaccinated until 2 months and the vaccine is a series) are actually infected by their parents.

There are a lot of people nowadays opting out of vaccinating kids because they falsely believe there are links to autism. I have read the primary literature on this myself and as a molecular biologist (with a public health nurse for a mom)- I vaccinate Mabel on the standard CDC schedule.

Because of the low vaccination rates, we’re seeing a re-emergence of vaccine-preventable illnesses (like whooping cough and measles), and the CDC and other groups are considering vaccinating kids at even earlier ages as a result.

I’d be happy to help answer any questions you have from a scientific and maternal perspective. But just so you know- I get my flu shot every year, as does Mac, as does Mabel now that she’s old enough. Mac and I both got the DTaP and flu shot before Mabel was born. We vaccinate her on the standard schedule recommended by the CDC.

Sorry for the soapbox, I’ll get off now. Just had to put it out there because I think it’s so important.

I don’t tell my plumber how to fix my toilet.  I don’t think I know more about my car than my mechanic.  Why don’t people trust their medical professionals and scientists to determine the best, safest course of action when it comes to vaccines and vaccine-preventable illnesses?

Aside from that, why do parents feel they can take risks with my health and the health of my family?  There are many people who cannot be vaccinated due to allergies, compromised immune systems, age, etc.  There is a certain percentage of the population who will not acquire sufficient immunity from a vaccination.  There are members of our society who are particularly susceptible to vaccine-preventable illnesses (patients on chemotherapy, those with suppressed immune systems, the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, etc.).  Why are cavalier and irresponsible parents so willing to put their own children and so many other people at risk by refusing to vaccinate?!

I refuse to be responsible for the illness or death of another human being by refusing to vaccinate myself and my daughter and spreading a vaccine-preventable illness.  I also don’t want my daughter to suffer like this, or this.

Are you afraid that plummeting vaccination rates will put your family in jeopardy?

Note: Where possible I tried to include links to primary literature and/or reputable sources of information.

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4 Comments

Filed under Mother, Scientist

4 responses to “As a parent and as a scientist, it’s frightening.

  1. I know, it’s weird that I am posting on something from months ago, but I just found your blog so that’s not really creepy at all, right?

    I made the hubs go get a pertussis vaccine when we started trying-to-conceive. We have some sort of weird outbreak here in my county in Texas (weird cuz it’s hitting 2-3 year olds and there’s been 1 fatality) and when the epidemiologist was describing it she kept saying, “Well, really, this disease, this disease is a baby killer.” Scary stuff that people are willing to expose kids to a disease that will KILL BABIES when they can prevent it. And really, isn’t herd immunity (which is the only way to protect the babies) kaput at like anything below 91%? So 85% – that’s insane.

    • You are right- depending on the virus/bacterium and the vaccine, some require well over 90% vaccination rate for herd immunity to work.

      The only possible explanation I can fathom is that parents are letting their irrational fear of vaccines over-ride their rational decision-making.

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