Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vaccines and Doctors

A study out today says that unvaccinated children are 23 times more likely to contract pertussis (whooping cough) than those who have been vaccinated. Last year, cases of pertussis and measles rose across the US. Anti-vaccine hysteria is becoming a serious health threat in America.

Now the Baltimore Sun reports that one doctor is trying to get the message across in a dramatic way:
When an unvaccinated child in Dr. Daniel Levy's practice came down with whooping cough this year, the Owings Mills pediatrician made a decision: He would no longer see patients whose parents refused to have them immunized against that disease or others, such as measles and meningitis.

The risks posed to his other patients were too great, Levy reasoned. And he felt he couldn't give adequate care to children whose parents rejected some of his most basic advice: That routine childhood vaccines are safe and are the key to preventing diseases that used to kill many before they could reach adulthood.
The prospect of doctors refusing to treat patients because of their kooky beliefs, or because of their parents' kooky beliefs, has to be a little bit chilling to anyone who thinks about the implications. The pressure to conform in every way is powerful enough in America without doctors adding to it by refusing to treat weirdos. But I think the threat posed by the anti-vaccine movement is so great that such drastic measures are warranted, and I say, good for Dr. Levy. One doctor who spoke to the Sun said that the anti-vaccine movement will only be defeated when enough children have died. I hope he is wrong, but I doubt it.

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