The Presidential Candidates’ Brief Guide to Vaccines

First, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this; I know you’re busy fund-raising and campaigning, so I’ll try to keep it brief. It’s recently become quite apparent that several of you have some serious misconceptions about our immunization program. That’s unfortunate for people seeking such a prominent position. (It’s especially disappointing that the physicians among you don’t seem to fully understand this issue, but I suppose immunizations are outside your specific fields.) I know science can be complicated, but public health is a pretty important topic. Anyway, the following are a few facts about vaccines that I hope you will find useful in your next debate.

  1. Vaccines do not cause autism. Numerous studies have demonstrated this, and a huge meta-analysis involving over 1.2 million children demonstrated that pretty clearly. Evidence doesn’t get any better than that.
  2. There was never any evidence that vaccines caused autism. The guy that started this whole autism/vaccine thing lost his license because of his fraudulent study, which has since been retracted.
  3. “Too many, too soon” is not a thing. Children encounter many viruses and bacteria every day, and their immune systems are not overwhelmed. (And they don’t develop autism, either.)
  4. There is no “alternative immunization schedule.” The guy that wrote that book didn’t bother to prove that his schedule was effective, or that it was safer than the one developed by the most knowledgeable infectious disease experts in our great nation. He just made it up.
  5. Spreading out immunizations does not reduce the risk of complications. All it does is extend the time period during which children are at risk for potentially fatal infections. And since the most significant risk of immunizations is driving to the office to get them, it creates some indirect risks as well.
  6. We shouldn’t immunize against insignificant diseases. On this point, I agree with you completely. So I’ve narrowed the list down to the diseases that cause “death or crippling” (your words, Dr. Carson). The links are from the CDC, a government organization made up of people who know more than you do about infectious diseases. You should meet them; they will work for one of you some day.
  7. In case you’re not familiar with the CDC vaccine schedule that you think people should avoid, I just listed every one of the vaccines it recommends. All of those diseases kill people. Fortunately, they don’t kill very many people anymore–because of vaccines.
  8. Finally, because I know your world isn’t all about saving lives, vaccines save money, too. Lots of money. That might be a good talking point if protecting children from life-threatening diseases isn’t sufficient.

I could go into more details, and I’d be happy to speak to you personally if you’d like to hear more. But if you’d rather avoid the topic altogether, there’s a huge network of pediatricians that would be happy to tackle the vaccine questions while you tend to your more important affairs. (Really, it’s no problem; we were actually going to talk to these families anyway, because their children are our patients.)

But hopefully, this basic information has been enough to allow you to speak a little more intelligently about the topic at your next debate–especially since one of you will soon be leading our nation. And in the future, if you’re unsure about similarly complicated topics, please feel free to admit your lack of knowledge and defer to the experts. That’s what real leaders do.


Thanks for reading–I’d love to hear your thoughts here or on my Facebook page. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for updates about new posts. Look forward to hearing from you. -Chad

As always, your comments are welcomed (even if you happen to disagree). I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Please try to keep it civil--I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

152 thoughts on “The Presidential Candidates’ Brief Guide to Vaccines

  1. Great post! I especially like the point about “real leaders”. Politicians are not expected to be experts on science. But, please leave the science to experts in those fields.

    • Thanks, Mike–it’s so important for our nation’s leaders to recognize that they are not the foremost authorities on every topic. That’s why they have advisors and cabinet members. The ability to admit that one doesn’t know everything and defer to the experts is crucial. Thanks for reading. -Chad

  2. Flu vaccine is not nearly as effective as other vaccines, makes me feel sick for a week, anecdotally I know a small child that got encephalitis from the nasal flu spray. I don’t take the flu shot anymore. Just wash my hands.

    • Once more, same as before…

      “CDC estimates that from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.”

    • And just because I really love science:

      MYTH: You can catch the flu from the vaccine.

      The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection. So people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway. It takes a week or two to get protection from the vaccine. But people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the shot caused their illness.

      http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/10-flu-myths

    • I was going to address this one, but it looks like the others have it covered. Anecdotes do not stand up to science, and while adverse events are not impossible, they are far less likely than the diseases they prevent. That said, I admit the the flu vaccine is often less effective than many of our others, because it’s a moving target. Hopefully we’ll do a better job this year than last.

    • Even though the flu vaccine doesn’t protect each individual very well, if everyone got it, there would be far fewer deaths from the flu and it would probably save thousands of lives in the USA every year. That’s because if everyone were vaccinated, each person is both less likely to get the flu IF exposed – and less likely to be exposed at all.
      A universal flu vaccine – good for all strains of the flu – is being developed and will hopefully be available in a few years.
      Such a vaccine can be much more effective – the main reason current flu vaccines don’t protect very well is that the virus mutates.
      Also, a universal flu vaccine likely wouldn’t have to be given every year.

      • “far fewer”, “probably” That sounds scientific and researched.
        People believe what they want to believe. The flu shot is the biggest lie and money scam if there was one. It’s entirely speculation, that’s not science. And deaths from the flu may have occurred anyway, even IF they were vaccinated. Which btw does happen but somehow hush hushed.

        • Not a lie…not a scam. Also, admittedly not one of our better vaccines. The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year-to-year, and making the vaccine is a bit like predicting the score of next year’s Super Bowl before we know which team will be in it. We’re working on a better one (and by “we,” I mean people who know a lot more about making vaccines than I do).

          But in spite of these problems, it’s the best we have for now in reducing complications from flu–especially in higher-risk populations like children, the elderly, or individuals with chronic diseases.

          http://www.cochrane.org/CD004879/ARI_vaccines-for-preventing-influenza-in-healthy-children

        • “And deaths from the flu may have occurred anyway, even IF they were vaccinated.”

          True.
          But, if everyone got the flu vaccine, it would reduce deaths from the flu much more than is suggested by the vaccine effectiveness.
          That’s because the vaccine effectiveness is based on the reduced risk of an individual getting the flu, if they have been vaccinated. Someone who is vaccinated has typically about 50% less risk of getting the flu.
          But if everyone got the flu vaccine, not only would each individual have less risk of getting the flu if they’re exposed, but they are less likely to be exposed in the first place.
          So if everyone got the flu vaccine, the risk of their getting the flu would be reduced much more than 50%.
          That isn’t speculative.
          Is that clear?

          • I have taken the Vaccine since I was 16 .. I don’t know what the Flu is.. I was told by the guy that lost use of his left arm because of the Swine flu . Vaccination.. I didn’t believe this and had the shot anyway.. So many people want to believe the Myths and lies.. Sad for them. I still must go get this years shot..Next week… Glad to have the extra protection for the Vaccines…!

        • “The flu shot is the biggest lie and money scam if there was one. It’s entirely speculation, that’s not science.”

          The following explains how the flu vaccine effectiveness is estimated in a given year.
          According to the CDC,
          “CDC has been working with researchers at universities and hospitals since the 2003-2004 flu season to estimate how well flu vaccine works through observational studies using laboratory-confirmed flu as the outcome. This is the U.S. Flu Vaccine Effectiveness (VE) Network. The U.S. Flu VE Network currently consists of five study sites across the United States that measure the flu vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing outpatient medical visits due to laboratory-confirmed influenza. CDC’s observational studies at U.S. Flu VE Network sites measure outpatient visits* for laboratory-confirmed influenza infections using a highly accurate lab test called rRT-PCR to verify the outcome. These studies compare the odds of vaccination among outpatients with acute respiratory illness and laboratory-confirmed influenza infection to the odds of vaccination among outpatients with acute respiratory illness who test negative for influenza infection.”
          http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/effectiveness-studies.htm

        • [Anecdote warning]If personal experience means more to you, I had a pretty good indication of the importance of a good flu vaccine last year.
          Since it was unfortunately far less effective this time, the hospital I work in had very rapidly a shortage of beds. We had emails telling us to try and get patients with more benign diseases to go home, so we could take care of the most severely affected by the flu.

  3. excellent presentation dr Hayes-clear, simple, backed up by evidenced-based studies and true practice. Thank you for not being too smarmy in your tone despite your ignorant audience (you’ll more likely be heard). Only thing to point out is when you said “one of you will be leading our nation”. I sincerely hope & believe none of them will be (this is just one side of the fence) ?;) thx.

    • Betsy- thanks! I wrote it for candidates from both parties (with minimal hope that any of them will actually read it). While the GOP candidates certainly need it, it can’t hurt for those on the other side of the aisle to review. One of them is about to be in charge.

  4. As the mother of a pediatrician in training, a future grandmother (God willing), and a health advocate, thank you for this. Brilliant!

      • “Guillain-Barré syndrome can affect anybody. It can strike at any age and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. The syndrome is rare, however, afflicting only about one person in 100,000. Usually Guillain-Barré occurs a few days or weeks after the patient has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally surgery will trigger the syndrome. In rare instances vaccinations may increase the risk of GBS.” (Source: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/gbs/detail_gbs.htm)

        Note that GBS is not only rare, but it’s even more rare that vaccines are a factor. Also, from what I read on the page linked above, it doesn’t appear to be fatal.

        As opposed to the flu:
        “A recent study * showed that flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74% during flu seasons from 2010-2012.
        One study showed that flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77% reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during the 2011-2012 flu season.
        Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. Vaccination was associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year. Flu vaccination also has been shown to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes (79%) and chronic lung disease (52%).
        Vaccination helps protect women during pregnancy and their babies for up to 6 months after they are born. One study showed that giving flu vaccine to pregnant women was 92% effective in preventing hospitalization of infants for flu.
        Other studies have shown that vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalizations in older adults. A study that looked at flu vaccine effectiveness over the course of three flu seasons estimated that flu vaccination lowered the risk of hospitalizations by 61% in people 50 years of age and older.” (Source: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/Flu/understandingFlu/Pages/seasonalVaccine.aspx)

        • Another, more common cause is influenza. GBS is rarely fatal but can cause chronic problems due to nerve damage. The swine flu vaccine in 1976 was associated with a small increased risk of GBS. The CDC is quick to point out that the flu vaccine is still one of our best defenses against influenza which is much, much more dangerous than GBS. Looking at the risks, it makes much more sense to get vaccinated which might slightly increase you risk of GBS but also lowers your risk of influenza.
          http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/guillainbarre.htm

        • GBS might not be immediately fatal. But in some cases (like my father’s), you will never get out of bed again. I won’t argue against vaccines in general, because I accept the facts. I’m not convinced that flu vaccines are right for everyone though. It is the one vaccine that I’m willing to forego.

  5. As a fellow pediatrician, I absolutely LOVE that you took the time to write this! I’m getting tired of defending the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Totally agree about leaders seeking the opinions of people who actually may know something about things they don’t know, but shame on Drs. Carsons and Paul for not supporting medical science with their statements.

    • Happy to help–I was more than disappointed. It was a perfect opportunity, and they both dropped the ball. I understand that it’s outside their fields, but they should understand science, and it’s an important part of public health. I would expect physicians running for public office (especially this one) to take a stand.

      Thanks for your comments. -Chad

  6. Thank you for this in depth “talk”. A few years ago my sister emailed her ‘group’ to avoid flu shots due to side affects. One of these was rheumatoid arthritis, which I already had. This expert advice was given by some neuro-MD. I sent the info to my rheumatologist who called me immediately on receipt of this info. He said”this guy should stick to whatever his specialty is. I am tired of the fearmongering and at times total mid-truths told to a naive and skeptical public. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Sally–it’s certainly possible for a physician with training in one field to understand another. But if they don’t take the time to read about something, refraining from commenting is a perfectly reasonable option.

  7. As a school nurse for 20 years, I thank you for this. Every year it was a battle to get the parents to comply. In our town a child could not enter school without full immunizations or be “in process”.

  8. Thanks, Chad, for making this very clear, concise and polite. I’m sharing it. While I’m no longer in practice, I still answer a lot of questions for people. Some of them are on this topic, including the subject of Gardasil.

    Keep on fighting the good fight!

  9. What about the studies that do confirm the vaccine/autism connection…what about the real experiences of parents watching their child stop communicating after vaccination…the vaccine injury compensation payouts…the court rulings of vaccine causing autism? That’s a lot of reality to tuck behind the curtain. Death…the rates of death were vastly reduced prior to vaccination…now medicine is the 3rd leading cause of death…and autoimmune disease has increased 500% or more in the past 20-30 years. And, with all that, I choose to NOT vaccinate because I trust in nature more than chemicals, especially those making billions of profit per year.

    • Please never take your children to any crowded places because they might pick up these viruses and also transmit them to others. You may think you are being a good parent (I disagree) but you are definitely being a horrible citizen.

      • Also very questionable…do unvaccinated kids spread disease? We’re not worried about getting the bugs…that’s how an immune system develops a memory. Questionable: vaccines provide immunity…it is s clear observation that vaccinated kids get the diseases they were vaccinated for. So…not effective…and not safe (per the injury fund). That is reasonable doubt.
        Do you have medical research for my horrible parenting? Which, by the way, is a little offensive. I thought the doc requested civility?

    • re: “What about the studies ” — THERE AREN’T ANY!! Everything you just wrote about is myth! Doesn’t exist! Totally untrue! Have you ever done any actual research? I’ll answer my own question: No, you haven’t.
      You have a computer and an internet conneciton — use it!

      • I did list a website with 22 links (see Shelley)…but whats the point? Anyone finding something other than your opinion will be discredited. Answer this…why would someone find the link…there is no value in seeing it…it has destroyed pretty much everyone’s career who report their observation. I could certainly see a motive to twist facts the other direction though.

    • OMG great points! Your argument is so unintelligent that you might be a vaccine supporter posting a joke message? If that is your true philosophy (I hate chemicals, blah blah), go ahead and practice what you pretend to believe. NEVER use chemicals. Never wash your hands–soap is loaded with chemicals. Eat natural food covered in poop–nothing bad ever happens with organic food, ever. When you or your loved ones become severely ill, go ahead and choose to languish in the comfort of your chemical-free home and never come out. But whatever you do–for the love of all things good–do not procreate. Too many chemicals involved in that process to list. Thanks.

      • Great point about our overall health. Following the medical model of pharmaceuticals is really serving us. Infant mortality…life expectancy…we are the laughing stock of planet earth. We are number 1 in drug sales though. And medical spending…

        • So then are you (Dr. Hayes) also of the belief that the science behind GMOs is completely true and that a GM food is safe and good for all like the agrichemical companies will say? Although all 4 of my children have been vaccinated, I’m not certain I’m 100% sure they are safe. I have been a witness to vaccine injuried children and the bigger picture of cause/connection just doesn’t add up. AND I’m very clear that the chemical laden GMO foods have had a negative impact on my family give the years of experience we’ve had with the quality of food that we’ve eaten. I also know that anything you put in your body has an effect—what makes anyone think they know the answers to all the problems we experience… it has to be a combination of genetics, environment and food. Those are our inputs-how can ANYONE clearly KNOW without a doubt what the outputs are?

          • Stephanie,

            Thanks for your comments. I am of the belief that there is no evidence that GMOs are dangerous. In fact, I wrote about this topic just last week.

            Nothing is 100% safe. Food isn’t. Organic food isn’t. Vaccines aren’t, and neither is driving to the doctor’s office to get them. Life is risky. And what we do know is that the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases is far higher than the risk of the vaccines.

            We don’t know anything without a doubt. And that what science is about–we look for answers, and when we find them, we look for more questions. Our decisions do not rely on perfect knowledge; they rely on using our best judgment with the evidence that is available. And scientifically-speaking, studies involving millions of children trump an individual’s observations.

            Thanks for reading,
            Chad

    • So… what about the $21 billion vitamin and natural supplement industry?

      And the $14 billion dollar “alternative medicine” industry?

      Dr. Peter Osborne bragging about his 7-figure income?

      Tell me, “Dr.” Stone, how do you sleep at night? Or have you drunk too much of your own Kool-Aid?

    • “What about the studies that do confirm the vaccine/autism connection”

      Name one such study. Go on, I dare you.

      “I trust in nature more than chemicals”
      Newsflash: nature is made of chemicals.

    • Which studies? Wakefield’s fraudent, retracted one? Maybe the more recent and also retracted Hooker reanalysis of Destafano et al? L

      Vaccines are given at 2 years which also happens to be when many cases of autism are diagnosed. Maybe it’s the birthday parties that cause autism.

      The NVIC doesn’t pay for autism. The Italian court rulings were just that: court rulings. There’s not much scientific about that.

      Mortality was declining for certain VPD’s bring to the introduction of the vaccines but incidence and morbidity were not. Vaccines also make the possibility of eradication a reality. For most disease they are the only way to reduce mortality to zero. At that point you actually get what you want and the vaccines go away. But you and your ilk prolongs that process, in some cases hurts the ability to eradicate diseases by giving it time to evolve and all the while subjects children to unnecessary suffering and death.

      Please provide a citation for medicine being the 3rd leading cause of death. The CDC’s data says otherwise.

      Please provide a citation for autoimmune disease increasing by 500%.

      The industry actually stands to profit more by eliminating vaccines. You know what costs far more than a vaccination (orders of magnitude more)? Being hospitalized for a VPD.

      Your “natural” cures are usually made by corporations who profit and lobby just like pharmaceutical companies. The biggest difference is how little they are regulated. Even if you are DIY guy do you really think the blogsa articles and books you read are written purely out of goodwill? Everyone has something to sell. All the more so for all the altie types for whom writing is their day job (there’s many more natural writers who blog for a living compared to science bloggers who generally have a job in the field they blog about).

    • Todd Stone claims to be a chiropractkc physician. I was under the impression that in the US physician was a protected title. I know doctor of chiropractic is allowed but I though use of physician was not. Someone ought to report him to whatever agency in North Carolina that stuff gets reported to.

    • Todd,

      Please tell me that you realize polio and diphtheria are “natural.” So are arsenic, mercury, radon, and many other harmful substances. “Natural” does not equate to health. But I do realize that admitting this would destroy your business model.

      The fact that the Vaccine Injury Court has made payments to families does not mean that the injuries were caused by vaccines. The standards of proof are VERY different from those we use in science.

      Yes, the rates of infectious diseases were trending down prior to vaccines. Sanitation is a wonderful thing. And then they declined even more after the vaccines were implemented, too. Vaccines are wonderful, too.

      There are so many other problems with your assertions, and so few citations…

      • I have only asserted that there are other studies and other opinions, and questions. That real people see reactions that appear pretty obvious…our Gov’t pays lots for these injuries…and that court rulings have found a relationship in individual cases. What citations am I missing? Medicine as the 3rd leading cause of death was JAMA, 2000…they added up drug reactions, and mistakes…and it was higher than respiratory disease as a cause of death. (3rd leading cause is a quote) The 500% was acknowledged to be a rough estimate. I did read an actual study several years ago…this is just the best of my memory. I’m sure you could check it though. You have to acknowledge a huge increase as a doc though?

        Now really…these vaccine payments are meaningless to the “science.” I can’t buy that the Gov’t just feels bad for these folks…and gives them money with NO validation of cause. That is offensive to logic and common sense. Its called “vaccine injury” fund…I think a few people are not as certain as you.

        • Here’s a link to the original IOM report: http://iom.nationalacademies.org/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/1999/To-Err-is-Human/To%20Err%20is%20Human%201999%20%20report%20brief.pdf

          Medicine is imperfect. Our diagnoses are sometimes incorrect. Our treatments are not always effective. Those of us who practice sometimes practice imperfectly. And because our job involves people’s lives, the result of those mistakes is sometimes death.

          This report that was published 16 years ago was eye-opening to many in the medical profession. It sparked a renewed interest in patient safety–because we’re certainly not happy about those numbers. And we strive to keep improving.

          The point that is sometimes missed is that all of those people would have died from something. And because we’re talking about patients in hospitals, many of whom are very sick, many of them would have died during the same admission. Before you ask, no–I don’t have numbers for that. But it’s an important point. And the other thing it doesn’t take into account is the number of people whose lives were preserved by our efforts.

          We can–and should–be better every day. Mistakes that kill patients are inexcusable. But the fact that these mistakes happen does not imply that patients shouldn’t seek medical care, as the vast majority of patients escape our hospitals alive–and healthier than they entered them.

  10. What you said makes perfect sense. I had 2 nieces attend Principia School in St. Louis ( Christian Science School) and during the years they repeatedly had outbreaks of measles, mumps and other diseases that we didn’t see in the public school population thanks to vaccines.

    Thank you for continuing the vaccine fight! They save lives.

  11. Thank you! Don’t forget that patients, parents, and loved ones can talk to their family doctor, internist, nurse practitioner, etc in addition to their pediatrician. We are happy to talk about the pros and cons of vaccinations with you!

    • Absolutely! Didn’t mean to leave anyone out–just speaking from my own specialty. Certainly many other physicians/NPs/PAs/nurses/other providers are more than fit to discuss this topic. (Although at least a couple ophthalmologists/neurosurgeons seem challenged in this area.)

      Thanks for reading!
      -Chad

  12. I grew up in the 70’s. I’ve had chicken pox, and measles as a child. My brother’s and sister had them too along with mumps. It didn’t kill us. It didn’t kill my classmates who had those diseases too. Correct me if I’m wrong but HPV is contracted through sexual contact right? What if your child who is 12 or 13 is not sexually active? I understand the need to get certain vaccines, but the overload of everything out there is a little scary. By the way, I held off on giving my daughter the MMR vaccine because a few of the children in my family had some reactions to it. I had her tested right before her 5th birthday and she is allergic to raw eggs. I am very glad I held off giving her that shot. Personally, it should be the parents decision until the child is old enough to make their own decisions about getting vaccinated. I know that I will get hateful emails or trolls saying what a bad mother I am for not vaccinating my child. She did get the hepatitis vaccine, because we do go out to eat once in awhile and I would hate for her to get something that is NOT curable. She also got vaccinated twice with the chickenpox vaccine and both times she ended up with welts at the injection site, and welts all over her body. All I’m saying is that some children should be tested to see if they are allergic to anything in the vaccination before being vaccinated. She started to get her shots at 2 years of age. I held off giving her anything since she was only around family, and didn’t go to daycare.

    • Just because it didn’t kill you, doesn’t mean that it didn’t kill anyone. It did. Morbidity (severe or permanent illness after the initial disease) is more common.
      HPV vaccine is given early so that by the time your kid becomes sexually active, whenever that may be, she will be protected against HPV types that cause cervical cancer. Finally, which hepatitis vaccine did you give? the one you get from food is Hepatitis A, which is generally a transient illness only and does not cause chronic hepatitis. Hepatitis B, which can cause chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, is acquired by blood and sexual contact. Just making sure you vaccinated for right reasons….

      • Alexia..please feel free to tell my youngest brother about your benign experience with childhood diseases. Make sure he’s got his hearing aids in first.

        • It’s an important point–death certainly isn’t the only lifelong complication of these diseases. Many vaccine-preventable diseases can have numerous other life-changing effects. And the fact that most people survived unscathed a few decades ago doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t prevent them when we can.

    • I do not think you are a bad mom and I’m not trying to be a “troll”. You are misinformed about the vaccinations you’ve mentioned here (perhaps others too?). Egg allergy is not a contraindication to the MMR vaccine (reference : http://www.cdc.gov) and the kind of hepatitis that is chronic (B,C, etc) is not contracted by eating out. Hepatitis A is contracted by eating (transmitted via fecal oral spread) but it is a self limited illness.

      This is just one HUGE issue I have with people who choose to not vaccinate their children according to the CDC/ACIP schedule. Way too many are making their decisions on wrong information and in doing so, are unnecessarily placing innocent children at risk.

    • Alexia,

      Thanks for your comments. I certainly understand that parents have concerns about vaccines–many of which are legitimate. My point with this post is that these are best discussed with your child’s physician, rather than commented on in a public forum by politicians who don’t seem to understand what they’re talking about.

      I don’t know you, but your comments don’t make me think you’re a bad parent. They make me think you’re a concerned parent who loves your children. I hope that you have a physician who is willing to take the time to discuss this topic with you and address your concerns.

      That said, I do believe that vaccines are important (like you hadn’t picked up on that, right?), and I would encourage you to discuss this topic further with your child’s doctor. While many vaccine-preventable diseases often get better, they can also have severe complications.

      Thanks again for reading, commenting, and most of all–loving your kids.

      -Chad

    • Alexia,
      Your child would have to be super-allergic to an allergen in a vaccine to react to it, because the allergens are there in very tiny amounts.
      Also, there may be other, safer alternatives besides just skipping the vaccine.
      There may be an alternate vaccine without the allergen.
      And if the child gets the vaccine in a doctor’s office, they should wait afterwards so if they have an anaphylactic reaction, they can get the appropriate assistance – and I would check that the doctor’s office actually has what’s necessary in case of anaphylaxis.

    • ” Correct me if I’m wrong but HPV is contracted through sexual contact right? What if your child who is 12 or 13 is not sexually active?”

      How will you know when they are? Do you really think that they will tell you? That is a dream chased by all parents but the reality is far different. My parents had no clue. My friends parents had no clue. Many did start at around 13 years of age. Many times it was not planned but a spur of the moment thing. You just need one exposure, and you have it. If you think talking to your kids is really going to be effective, think of how well abstinence education is working.

      The shot is super low risk, HPV is not.

  13. What a wonderful explanation. Well written and to the point with just enough snark to attempt to get the attention of some of those bozos. Having had all the major childhood diseases, whooping cough and jaundice were probably the worst – 6 plus weeks of school missed. And I lost a daughter to Meningococcus when she was 16. In the hospital on Monday and dead by Tuesday. Kids who do not get vaccines are ill served when parents listen to rabble-rousers.

    Kudos for performing a needed service.

    Dot Appleman

    • Thanks, Dot. So sorry to hear about your daughter. Meningococcal disease happens fast and is devastating. There’s a lot of misinformation out there…I do my best to counter it.

  14. Mumps measles chicken pox and Rubella are not death causing it is possible but they are not death causing and they are child vaccines hmm those I found in like 2 seconds Also they only help lower by 25% on average those who will contract the virus so why the slander and lies?? Because big pharm is scared that is why. Keep going Doc we got your back!!

    • Yeah…don’t know what you googled, but all of those diseases can cause death. Mumps less commonly, but measles about 1/1,000 cases. And I’d love to see a citation for your 25% reduction in risk (mine are in the links above).

      No slander or lies here–just science. Perhaps you should run for president.

      • I’ve never seen irrefutable “science,” and clearly there are questions of safety that you can’t deny. (NVIC) And, while requesting civility…you may have made the most underhanded insult on the comment board. That’s just an opinion.

    • “Mumps measles chicken pox and Rubella are not death causing it is possible but they are not death causing”
      So it’s possible for them to cause death but they are not “death causing”? What’s the logic there? Isn’t even one preventable death a tragedy? Are you one of those misanthropes who thinks it won’t happen to your kids so who cares about those other kids? Besides being awful, this is a dangerous view to hold. The boy who died in Germany wasn’t in some back alley doctor’s office but rather a major hospital in the country’s capital. Even if socioeconomic status affects mortality in the initial infection we know that SSPE doesn’t discriminate and is always fatal (in a slow and awful way too).

      Also mortality is not the only problem with disease. Just because it doesn’t kill (which isn’t the case anyways) is that really alright to allow children to unnecessarily get sick enough that they require hospitalization. The varicella vaccine reduced both ER visits and hospitalizations by about 2/3.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16651288

  15. Why don’t you mention the vaccine court?

    Vaccine court – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccine_court
    Vaccine court is the popular term which refers to the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which administers a no-fault system for litigating vaccine injury claims.
    ‎National Childhood Vaccine … – ‎Homeland Security Act – ‎Previous rulings

  16. There is far to much of that, that… DATA… in this piece for our politicians. What are you, some kind of “scientist,” what with that “MD” after your name?! I think anything our politicians say about science or medicine should be based on ANECDOTES and MYTHS and FEAR-MONGERING rather than rigorously tested FACTS. That’s what they do with everything else, isn’t it? Why should science and medicine be exempt?? Keep America American. Where the only people more ignorant than our leaders are the people who vote for them.

  17. THANK YOU!! I just spent 2 days at the CDC “Pink Book” conference while the GOP debate was happening. What a ridiculous (and terrifying!) group of people (the GOP candidates, not the CDC or conference attendees)! It is especially important to get the word out about the “alternate schedule”, which many of my patients’ parents use, despite my best efforts. My thought is, at least I might be able to get them to change their mind about some vaccines, even if I can’t get them to get all of them. But, it’s like hitting my head against a brick wall. Why, how & when did some people decide that a C-list celebrity knew more than generations of dedicated professionals with specialized expertise! Grrrrr!!!!
    Thank you for this! I’m sharing it with all my networks!
    Katie Baker, ND

  18. Fact- health care professionals are required to provide risk coaching of vaccines to patients yet most do not. Additionally the government will not allow citizens to sue Pharma companies for any complication associated with vaccines. Fact- it is unknown and not proven that the current vaccine schedule is the best way to administer vaccines. Thanks for nothing

  19. Excellent post. Thank you for letting people know. I found it highly irresponsible of those candidates to give false information to the 23-24 million people watching that debate.

  20. The best thing the CDC could do is actually figure out what is causing the autism epidemic. In the 80s the rate was 1 in 1,000. In 2004, it was 1 in 125. They said the rate actually didn’t increase, we just weren’t diagnosing or recording it properly. In 2010 it’s 1 in 68. So, were we not recording it properly in 2004 too? Or, is it actually going up? What are they going to say if the numbers keep increasing? Finding a real answer to this would end the debate.

    You are wrong on “too many too soon not being a thing.” I have a personal example. In 2010, my first son was born. The CDC recommended the brand new combo vaccine, MMRV. In 2013, my second son was born. The CDC recommended MMR, with a separate Varicella vaccine. Why? Because after a year of giving children MMRV, they discovered it tripled the risk of severe side effects. This was rarely reported in the media, and the CDC quietly phased out MMRV. I only noticed because of the timeline of when I had children. But, if you look at the history of our vaccines, this sort of thing happens all the time. We are always tweaking the recipe, and the risk vs. reward changes almost yearly. When it’s time to vaccinate, parents need to find out what changed and if the risks and rewards changed.

    I am glad to see this rare topic of selective vaccinations brought up. I’ve never heard many people question which immunizations are important or if our schedule is the most effective. I was shocked to find out there is no study done on non-vaccinated children, selective vaccination, or children who get delayed vaccinations. Is there a better risk/reward? We don’t know because it has never been studied. I also like this attached chart that shows how much our vaccinations have changed since the 80s. We really don’t know the long term effects of the new vaccination schedule because they simply haven’t been around long enough. Like I said above, the side effects of a 2010 vaccine are completely different than that of a 2013 vaccine.

    Yes, all those diseases can kill people. But, here’s where it gets interesting. Our society is obsessed with only immunizing a small percentage, 25%, of the population, children. Once they hit adult hood, we no longer care. An estimated 80% of adults are no longer immunized. We have over a hundred million adults with expired vaccines. This is due to waning immunity as the majority of our vaccines are useless after a decade. Check the CDC’s recommendation for travelers going to a country with Polio for example. They recommend getting the vaccine to those that got it at birth. Why? Because it’s expired. Why don’t they recommend adults in the US get a Polio vaccine every ten years? Because we don’t have Polio in America anymore. Also, from the CDC’s own report, adults are spreading Pertussis to babies because the DTAP vaccine is only 90% effective for 2 years and then declines to be almost useless between 5-10 years. We changed to a weaker but safer vaccine in the 90s. Yet, how many adults do you know that get a DTAP shot every five years? Until we get serious about vaccinating 75% of the population, adults, I will believe how seriously our country is worried about all of these infectious diseases you listed.

    These discussions are great as it will lead to safer vaccines. We should be striving as a society for the safest vaccination schedule possible with the lowest risk vs. reward, and I have seen too many examples (like those mentioned above) that show me we can do better.

  21. You nailed it for these jokers! Next time they must think twice before giving their ” opinion” on matters they have no clue about.
    Neurosurgeons and ophthalmologists are not experts in vaccines : any more than a real estate mogul!

  22. Perfectly stated Chad! I truly hope and will work hard to make sure none of them will rule over me! Their lines of thinking are so dangerous, fallacious, fear mongering, and backward. Science must triumph for it is the only way to truth and will be the only force that saves ourselves on our little “spaceship” flying through the universe. Some greater force gave us this power to face and fill our needs and that must be accepted and respected. Thanks Ronald Reagan for starting this downward trend.

  23. Fantastic. With your permission, may I print your editorial and post in my pediatric patient rooms and/or give to vaccine-waffling parents?

  24. I have a member of my family who hasn’ t vaccinated her 2 beautiful children – Her irritational excuses, are mainly, that she doesn’t want all those diseases put in their bodies! This is a college graduate! Pretty scarey for Grandma!

  25. Thank you for this fantastic, concise, clear, competent post. From a mom of 2 vaccinated children ( young adults now) one with Asperger’s and one without. A mom who also has an undergrad in Microbiology and is now an LCSW that works with upwards of 60 or more children and adolescents with various ASDs.
    Thank you!
    Lisa

  26. I’m a Pediatrcian practicing in Brooklyn NY. Day by day I have to educate, counsel on how vaccines are important. I don’t like giving pain to kids but my job is to save their lives from preventable diseases that can affect them and ” kill them”. We are fortunate to live in a time where we have these vaccines available and free, prior generations did not have this opportunity.
    I’m hugely disappointed by erroneous comments made by one of our colleagues. I hope he publicly clarifies his comments, we don’t need kids dying to prove how important vaccines are.
    I applaud the person who wrote this letter.
    Dr. Reinoso

  27. Doctor, if I am not mistaken, a pregnant woman if exposed to measles, increases the chances of her child being born deaf. This is another reason for immunizations. As a child, I experienced several childhood diseases, along with my brothers. Immunizations came later and we took them as they became available. My daughter had chicken pox prior to those being available. My grandchildren receive all innoculations. I will be getting the whooping cough vaccine as I take care of my 1 month old grand-daughter as soon as I get off this page.

  28. Thank you for doing this! Really well written. I hope it gets out there and heard more.

    As the mother of two teenage daughters, I’m interested in knowing more about how the importance of the HPV vaccine. Although they’ve received all the other standard vaccines, I hesitated on this one because: 1. it’s fairly new, and 2. I’m not convinced that HPV is such a risk to their health, despite the fact that it can possibly lead to cervical cancer. I’ve heard different arguments on this and don’t know what to believe. I have HPV and I know that it’s a pretty common virus, especially since it’s often asymptomatic. I trust you and am interested in hearing what you know about the link between the virus (are their different strains that vary in virulence?) and cancer. (Also have to admit that it was Rick Perry pushing for the vaccine to be mandatory in my home state didn’t help my confidence in it) 😉

    • I don’t have a cervix today because I have HPV. Fortunately I have no need or use for my reproductive system as I developed HPV after menopause. But it can do this damage at any age and this vaccine is the ONLY way of preventing it. All kids should get this vaccine.

  29. In my Web site and my upcoming book, I explains that many of the vaccine-preventable diseases occur only in human beings. Thus, if we can drive them into extinction through vaccination, we will no longer need to vaccinate anyone against them. Smallpox is gone. Polio is almost gone. Measles may be next.

  30. Thank you for posting this most important message. I hope it changes the mind–it is doubtful that some of them have one–of at least some. That message, from a good doctor like you, should have much weight. Blessings to you and yours.

  31. As I understand the “problem with infant injections” has to do with the mercury in the injection, if that is the case & the rate of Autism jumped Significantly just after George Bush passed his 1st executive order, allowing the power plants to emit more Mercury into the air & water to “drop the cost of electricity”– would that not have more to do with the HUGE SPIKE IN AUTISIM IN THIS COUNTRY? Just wondering?

  32. I am a physician (surgeon) and your post is brilliant. I am laughing out loud, though their comments about vaccines are more sad than funny. Another question is – how the hell did Carson become a neurosurgeon??

  33. Your points are well taken, but you didn’t mention that vaccines aren’t safe for everyone. I cannot get any vaccines because I am highly allergic to many of the inactive ingredients. I understand the value of vaccines. My kids and pets are vaccinated. However, vaccines are not safe for the entire population which is why there is a fund set up for people with vaccine injuries. I would like to see the companies make the vaccines safer by eliminating the inactive ingredients that tend to cause a problem with people. Then maybe I wouldn’t have to be on pins and needles every time my children get a vaccine.

    • An ingredient may seem *inactive* to you but every ingredient has an important and valid purpose. Removing them for you may make them less safe and less effective for others.

      Which ingredients are you allergic to?

      • “Removing them for you may make them less safe and less effective for others”
        More likely, it’s a matter of cost – the vaccine can be made hypoallergenic, but it would be expensive and very few people are seriously allergic to it, so a hypoallergenic version isn’t made. It’s a balance between risk to a few people and the expense of reducing the risk.
        Some vaccines do have alternative versions without the allergens.

        • It depends on which ingredients you’re referring to. Many of the ingredients in vaccines that cause some concern are there for a reason. They’re part of how the vaccine was produced or they are used to stimulate a stronger immune response.

          For children (or adults) with severe allergies to a vaccine component, it’s important to talk to your doctor about whether the risks of vaccination outweigh the benefits. And for the vast majority of us who don’t have life-threatening reactions to vaccines, it’s important to do our part to prevent the spread of diseases to those who can’t be immunized.

    • “I cannot get any vaccines because I am highly allergic to many of the inactive ingredients.”
      Have you actually had an anaphylactic reaction to a vaccine, or are you just afraid of that happening?
      The amounts of allergens in vaccines are very tiny, and if you are just afraid of a bad reaction, you could get a vaccine in a doctor’s office where you’ve checked that they have the appropriate emergency equipment in case you have an anaphylactic reaction. (I’m not sure what should be on hand actually).
      Also, different vaccines have different allergens in them – so it seems unlikely you would have a medical need to avoid all vaccines.
      I have VERY bad allergy problems myself. They aren’t bad in the sense of anaphylaxis, but I still can relate to feeling marginalized. The needs of allergic people just don’t seem to be a high priority.
      I’m not afraid of an allergic reaction to a vaccine, because I’ve never had an allergic reaction that made me afraid for my life. I can see how having truly scary allergic reactions would make a person want to avoid any possibility of such a thing happening.

  34. It’s not wheather I believe in vaccinations. It’s about the government continuing to take away my rights! The government does not need to slowly chip away at my rights as an American! Where does it stop? Republicans & Democrats continue to say less government but continue take away my right to choose! Enough is enough!

    • Vaccination is not mandatory. You choose not to, but there are consequences. The others in society can decide that you pose significant risk to others and choose to exclude you or your children from certain places, jobs, or schools. Those are the rights of others and society as a whole. All rights have a concomitant responsibility.

      “Where does it stop?”

      When the exercising of your rights significantly and negatively affects the lives and health of others.

  35. Last year I attended a one-day conference on autism at Brigham Young University. During the Q&A at the end of the day, a woman asked one of the presenters about a treatment for autism she had heard about. Dr. Paul Carbone, a pediatrician at the University of Utah Medical Center, responded, “In God we trust – all others bring data.”

  36. >>You should meet them; they will work for one of you some day.

    Make that “they COULD POSSIBLY work for one of you same day.” Let’s not assume that one of these candidates will be (shudder) our next President.

    • Audrey–thanks for your comment. But please don’t assume that I was writing only to GOP candidates. While this post was obviously triggered by the GOP debate, I’m really not trying to make any partisan comments at all. I would have done the same if those on the other side of the aisle made such an obvious display of public health ignorance.

      In the end, somebody has to take the helm; let’s hope that–whichever party they’re from–they have the knowledge to lead us in the right direction, or at least the wisdom to defer to knowledgeable advisors.

  37. A major point is that smallpox has been eradicated in my lifetime, Lorri. I was required to have a smallpox vaccination before coming to Canada. There us no longer that threat. Another point is the alternative to vaccination.That is quarantine. With multiple kids sick you might have to repeat school years as you are off as soon as a sibling shows symptoms until you are safe.

  38. Your article is great and I thoroughly agree with you since I have been working in the medical field since 1967! Since 1983 I have worked mostly in Pediatric offices so I have dealt with the immunization dilemma almost daily. I have witnessed personally how much the vaccines have improved the health of infants and children. I try to encourage those who hesitate about getting vaccines for their children by telling them my personal experience of remembering how sick I was as a child having measles, mumps and chickenpox. I,also, relate my experiences as a nurse and improvements seen due to vaccines. I was so shocked and angered at the candidates statements that I could not believe what they were saying. Thank you once again!

  39. Thank you!! I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, 20 years experience, also with first hand knowledge of pediatric illness & death from the diseases we vaccinate against. I also would be happy to chat with a candidate to bring them up to speed on vaccines.

  40. Since the younger generation did not see or suffer with vaccine preventable diseases, they are clueless about how dangerous these illnesses can be. Many grandparents who did see or suffer these illnesses tend to forget what it was like. Now that they see persons they may support for political office criticize vaccines, how many children will go un- or under vaccinated?

  41. it is also a good thing to be protected from tuberculosis and smallpox.

    During WWII I had diphtheria, typhoid and parahyphoid vaccines.

    Between age 4 and age 11 I had: chickenpox, whooping cough, rubeola, measles, mumps and scarlet fever. I can assure you that they were no fun!

  42. There’s a huge network of Family Physicians who would be happy to tackle those vaccine questions as well! #healthisprimary

  43. So by your logic, politicians shouldn’t be getting involved in mandating vaccines either? My state senator admitted to me that he didn’t even read a vaccination Bill he recently voted on. So I think vaccines should be left to the parents and doctors to decide on, don’t you? Vaccination mandates without exemptions are unconstitutional and are the first step towards totalitarianism. Be careful what you wish for.

    • No–that’s not my logic at all. I don’t have a problem with elected officials making public health policy. As a physician, I feel that’s a very important responsibility of our government. But when they do so, they should do it based on evidence, and on the recommendations of advisors that truly understand the field.

      The next President of the United States will be tasked with making important decisions about a variety of topics with which he/she may not be familiar. It’s unrealistic to expect a President to understand the intricacies of every possible decision. But in these cases, the most important quality a leader can have is the humility to admit that something is out of their field of experience and seek guidance from those who know it best–not to make ignorant comments based on their personal feelings.

  44. My children are vaccinated so I don’t need my comments misconstrued as an “anti vaxxer”…but your comment that the “greatest risk from vaccines to children is the drive over to the doctors office” is ignorant and extremely dismissive of the parents who do have children who have suffered severe side effects from a vaccine. Even if it is rare and even if the benefits outweighs the risks, there are still children who suffer serious side effects each year and to make light of that with a comment like that is exactly why people do not trust doctors to inform them of everything. The fact remains some children do react with Serious and even life threatening reactions (from seizures to paralysis) and even if it is rare and less then 1 percent, that 1 percent statistic is of no comfort to the parents of a child who has long terms consequences from a shot. There is a reason the manufacturers list these side effects and why the VARS court exists. Real things happen. When you want to educate people to your view on this then perhaps you should acknowledge the truth, that there are varying types of side effects, from mild to serious, but that you still believe the benefits out weight the risk, but don’t act as if there is no risk or have such a capricious attitude on the risks…Total transparency is what will gain trust back in the medical community.

    • Mike–thanks for your comments. I do not mean in any way to make light of children who have actual medical complications from vaccines. Serious adverse events from vaccines do happen, and I’ve never said they don’t. They are, however, FAR less common than serious adverse events from the diseases they prevent–which is why we give them.

      My comment is not ignorant and is not intended to be dismissive at all. Everything in life–including vaccines (and driving to the office to get them)–has risks. And if you look at the numbers, the risk of dying in a car accident is much greater than that of dying from vaccines. http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/injury-facts-chart.aspx

  45. Thank you for putting this info out. There are so many incorrect comments and “facts” going around like Trump’s claims. What a bunch of bunk!

  46. Dr. Hayes, Bravo!

    How can we get the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Practice and while we’re at it, the American Academy of Internal Medicine, to come up with a joint statement regarding this critical issue? Pediatric and adult patients need to be vaccinated. How can we get these groups to stand together?

    Thanks, Dr. Fuller

  47. Thank you for posting this! We need similar posts for evolution, global warming, nutrition, things that cause brain damage, nuclear power, etc. It’s an uphill battle.

  48. Chad….I acknowledge your passion and commitment to communicate your truth.
    I have chosen not to vaccinate my children after dealing with hundreds of vaccine damaged children in my clinical work….You have mentioned the many diseases from which children may die and yes I agree that this can be the case …at the same time to ignore those little ones who die from the vaccine cocktails is cruel and lacking in appropriate compassion.
    I have come to a point where I believe it is vital to investigate and differentiate b/w children who are physically advanced enough to handle these toxic cocktails and those who as yet have not reached sufficient physical maturity to be able to handle vaccines. The latter group is neglected and has been ignored by science. It would be amazing to be able to develop a scientific test which is able to identify which child is going to be safe and those who are in danger. My children are 14 years old and never had as much as a painkiller.
    (Btw please make a distinction b/w being exposed to bacteria and viruses from the outside and those within vaccines which are directly injected into the blood stream) Big difference!

    • Hardo–sorry for not initially approving your comment. It was stuck in my spam filter.

      Again, the number of children who die from “vaccine cocktails” is a minuscule fraction of the number of children who die from these diseases. But death isn’t the only concern. Children often have other serious complications from these diseases, also at a MUCH higher rate than from the vaccines that prevent them. Nothing in life is without risks, but some risks are well worth taking.

      I wanted to understand your clinical background, so I looked up your practice. And I’m nearly certain after looking at your website (http://www.sunflowerclinic.com.au/sunflower-clinic.pdf) that we will never agree on scientific issues. The notion that emotional trauma can be diagnosed by looking at blood under a microscope and treated with an enema or homeopathy falls so far outside our understanding of the human physiology that I doubt we’ll see eye-to-eye on anything.

      But if you can develop a scientific test to determine which children are at risk for actual adverse effects from vaccines–one that is scientifically validated using appropriately-designed studies–I’d be more than happy to use it. (One of the properties of this test should be that it should almost never be positive, as serious vaccine reactions–while possible–are exceedingly rare.)

      And just a quick correction about vaccines: they are never injected into the blood stream. They are injected into muscle tissue, or in some cases, absorbed through the nasal or oral mucosa. And only a handful of them contain live-viruses. Most contain only inactive pieces of the bacteria or virus they are intended to inoculate against.

      -Chad

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