Category: Vaccine Advocates

Parents Who Regret Not Vaccinating Their Kids

My uncle got polio just before the vaccine was developed. He was hospitalized for six months, almost didn't survive, and lived with atrophied muscles in one of his legs.
My uncle got polio just before the vaccine was developed. He was hospitalized for six months, almost didn’t survive, and lived with atrophied muscles in one of his legs.

A rather strange anti-vaccine argument you might sometimes hear is that you can’t unvaccinate your kids (even though they push detox plans that say they do exactly that), so go ahead and wait to vaccinate them until you have “done your research” and are sure.

The problem with that argument, like most others that anti-vaccine folks use to justify their decisions to skip or delay vaccines, is that you can wait too long.

“In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the smallpox taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of the 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.”

Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

Tragically, Ben Franklin wasn’t the last parent to regret not vaccinating his child.

More Parents Who Regret Not Vaccinating Their Kids

Roald Dahl, who famously wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is less well known for having a daughter who died of measles. It was just before the measles vaccine came out, so he didn’t regret not vaccinating her, but in urging other parents to protect their children, he did seem to regret that a vaccine wasn’t yet available.

For many other parents, a vaccine was available that could have kept their kids from getting sick.

“In 1989, the Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine was relatively new and not yet routine. I was aware of the vaccine’s availability, but, busy mom that I was, I had not yet made the trip to the health department to get the immunization for my two-year-old daughter, Sarah. I will always regret that bit of procrastination and the anguish that it caused.”

Peggy Archer

Some of them have shared their personal stories, including the parents of:

  • Abby Peterson‘s “pediatrician steered her away from vaccinating her daughter” against chickenpox and her mother, Duffy Peterson, now says that “she wishes she had questioned the doctor’s recommendations more forcefully.” Abby died of a chicken pox infection.
  • Emily Lastinger who was unvaccinated and died of flu.
  • After all seven of her unvaccinated kids caught whooping cough, this parent regretted not having them vaccinated.
  • Claire Noelle Bakke who got pertussis when she was five weeks old
  • Scarlet Anne Taylor who died of the flu during the 2014-15 flu season
  • this unvaccinated three year old who spent six days in the hospital (part of it in a slight coma, during which they weren’t sure he would survive) with Haemophilus influenzae type b epiglottitis
  • Abigail who was unvaccinated and died of invasive pneumococcal disease
  • these two unvaccinated kids who developed severe dehydration from rotavirus infections
  • Sarah who was unvaccinated and developed a croupy cough when she was two-years-old and ended up on a ventilator with Haemophilus influenzae type b epiglottitis
  • Ashley who died from the flu and had never gotten a flu shot
  • Evan who died of a vaccine-preventable disease because his mom was not told about the vaccine that could have prevented it

There is another group of parents who have regrets about vaccines. Those parents whose kids can’t be vaccinated (too young to be vaccinated, have cancer, or have another medical exemption, etc.) are put at risk and exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases by intentionally unvaccinated kids. These parents typically regret that those around them don’t get vaccinated and protected.

Your decision to get educated and vaccinate your family shouldn’t be based on fear or concerns of regret if you delay or skip any vaccines, but these types of personal stories are important to review, especially if you also hear, watch, or read any stories about vaccine injuries.

What To Know About Regretting Not Vaccinating Your Kids

Delaying or skipping one or more vaccines isn’t safer or healthier, it just puts your child at increased of catching the vaccine-preventable diseases the vaccines protect you against and might lead to feelings of regret if you wait too long.

More On Parents Who Regret Not Vaccinating Their Kids

Paul Offit

Paul Offit, MD, FAAP is a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, completing his training at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

If people choose not to get vaccinated it’s because they’re not scared of the disease, and they have false concerns about what the vaccine can do.

Paul Offit, MD

His abbreviated resume is 34 pages long…

Paul Offit's books will help you do real research about vaccines.
Paul Offit’s books will help you do real research about vaccines.

In addition to being the co-inventor of RotaTeq, one of two rotavirus vaccines in use today, Dr. Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center and a professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Even more importantly, whether it was his appearances on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report and other places in the media, his free vaccine course, or the 150 papers he has published in medical and scientific journals, Dr. Offit has been a leading force in educating pediatricians and parents about the importance and safety of vaccines

His books and articles are essential reading, especially for health care providers and parents who might be thinking about skipping or delaying one or more vaccines. They include:

  • Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure
  • Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All
  • Vaccines and Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction
  • Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine
  • Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine
  • Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases
  • The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to Today’s Growing Vaccine Crisis

Not surprisingly, he is a frequent target of anti-vaccine groups.

It also shouldn’t be surprising that all of their attacks are very easily debunked.

For More Information on Paul Offit:

Who is Tom Frieden?

CDC Director Tom Frieden in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic.
CDC Director Tom Frieden in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic.

Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH has had a long career in public health, working as Commissioner of the New York City Health Department and most recently as the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr Frieden went to Oberlin College, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and did his residency in internal medicine at Yale University.

The field of public health aims to improve the health of as many people as possible as rapidly as possible.

A responsive government can maintain that people are responsible for their own health while also taking public health action that changes default choices to make it easier for people to stay healthy.

Dr. Frieden on The Future of Public Health

During his career, he:

  • worked to reduce rates of cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis by 80 percent in New York City
  • assisted the national tuberculosis control program in India
  • directed efforts to reduce smoking, including teen smoking, in New York City
  • led the response to the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic in the US
  • has pushed for more funding to help control and treat Zika, which he says will likely “become endemic in this hemisphere”

Perhaps most importantly, and despite some criticism, Dr. Frieden led the CDC during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. An epidemic that spread to the US and other countries and for which the “CDC has undertaken the most intensive outbreak response in the agency’s history.”

Recently, he has also highlighted “two shortcomings of our health system,” that the upward trend in life expectancy that we have seen over the past 50 years (about 9 years), “is neither as  rapid  as  it  should  be  —  we  lag  behind  dozens  of  other  nations – nor is it uniformly experienced by people in the United States.” And that is because “life  expectancy  and  other  key health outcomes vary greatly by race, sex, socioeconomic status, and geographic location.”

And after working to eliminate trans fats from restaurants in New York City and have chain restaurants post calorie information on their menu boards, he has continued to confront many of the more modern era epidemics, like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

He resigned from the CDC on January 20, 2017 and was replaced by Anne Schuchat, MD, who became the  became Acting Director.

For More Information on Thomas Frieden

Updated January 22, 2017

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Celebrities Who Advocate For Vaccines

Some of the first celebrities to advocate for vaccines did so to help combat polio.

lucy-desi-polio
In 1954, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz asked everyone to “give every dime and dollar” they could spare to fight polio.

From Grace Kelly to Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, stars lined up to support the efforts of the March of Dimes to end polio, with celebrity comedian Eddie Cantor leading the way.

Joan Crawford, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Red Skelton, Johnny Cash, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, and many others were a part of the Polio Crusade.

Before that though, there were celebrities that were working to fight smallpox. Celebrities of the time like Lewis Carroll, who is best known for writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

There are, not surprisingly, many pro-vaccine celebrities now too.

  • Kristen Bell
  • Ewan McGregor
  • John Oliver
  • Jennifer Garner
  • Olivia Wilde
  • Amada Peet
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • David Beckham
  • Keri Russel
  • Julie Bowen
  • Serena Williams
  • Salma Hayek
  • Christy Turlington Burns
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Kristi Yamaguchi
  • Marc Anthony
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar
  • Kendra Wilkinson
  • Marissa Jaret Winokur

And like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the 1950s, many are working with organizations to help fight vaccine-preventable diseases and protect children.

Many, like Ewan McGregor and Salma Hayek, work with UNICEF.

Others promote flu vaccines, combat pertussis, or simply fight the anti-vaccine misinformation that is that out there.

For More Information On Celebrities Who Advocate For Vaccines:

Maurice Hilleman – The 20th Century’s Leading Vaccinologist

Do you know who Maurice Hilleman was or what he did?

He once said that:

Preventative medicine, and little else with the possible exception of antibioitcs, has brought about the lengthening of the average human lifespan to the Biblical threescore and ten years. Among the most potent and effective weapons in accomplishing this longevity have been the vaccines.

If you don’t who he is, you will likely be surprised that he is often described as the:

  • unsung giant of vaccinology
  • greatest vaccinologist
  • 20th century’s leading vaccinologist
  • greatest scientist of the 20th century
  • father of modern vaccines

Tragically, he has also recently been described as the MMR vaccine’s forgotten hero.

Even though he developed 8 of the 14 most commonly used vaccines that save at least 8 million lives a year, few people know about him or that he developed the measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, and rubella vaccines.

You might even be more familiar with his daughter, as the Jeryl Lynn strain of mumps virus is in the current mumps vaccine. Hilleman developed the mumps vaccine after culturing the virus from his sick daughter, Jeryl Lynn, and then attenuating the virus.

With all he did, it’s not surprising that Bill Gates called Hilleman one of the most influential vaccine heroes.

Maurice Hilleman also:

  • defined antigenic drift and shift for influenza
  • discovered and purified interferon
  • identified adenovirus
  • discovered SV40

All together, he developed 40  experimental and licensed animal and human vaccines.

Hilleman once called Jenner, Pasteur, Koch, von Behring, Ehrlich and Lister giants of their time – the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Similarly, Maurice Hilleman was, without question, a giant of our time.

For More Information on Maurice Hilleman:

Walter Orenstein on Vaccines

Walter Orenstein is a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist who also completed a residency in preventive medicine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although I mostly trained in the post-vaccine era, it is easy for me to understand Dr. Walter Orenstein’s quote about Hib disease:

for those trained in pediatrics in the 1970s, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) was a horror.

He is talking about all of the cases of epiglottitis, bacterial meningitis, and pneumonia that pediatricians routinely saw that were caused by Hib. Just before the first Hib vaccine came out in 1988, just over 250 young children died each year of Hib disease.

While the kids I saw in training were all vaccinated with Hib and didn’t get epiglottitis, the older doctors in the ER always considered the diagnosis whenever we presented a severe case of croup. And there were still notices about the epiglottitis team in the ER, which included an anesthesiologist, and ENT specialist, and a pediatrician.

Dr. Orenstein has witnessed much more than the horrors of Hib though, having worked on smallpox eradication, polio elimination, and measles control at the CDC.

He was also the Director of the United States Immunization Program between 1988 and 2004, when thimerosal was removed from most childhood vaccines, except some flu shots. More importantly, this was a time when both immunization rates greatly increased and kids got the opportunity to be protected from many more vaccine-preventable diseases than they ever had in the past.

That’s why he was featured and misquoted in Robert F. Kennedy‘s article, Deadly Immunity.

According to transcripts of the meeting, the committee’s chief staffer, Kathleen Stratton, predicted that the IOM would conclude that the evidence was “inadequate to accept or reject a causal relation” between thimerosal and autism. That, she added, was the result “Walt wants” — a reference to Dr. Walter Orenstein, director of the National Immunization Program for the CDC.

He has also been the Associate Director of the Emory Vaccine Program since 2004, except for a three year stint as Deputy Director for Immunization Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Not surprisingly, he has received many awards for his work, including the:

  • Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal
  • Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Distinguished Service Award
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Excellence in Public Service Award
  • Stanley A. Plotkin Lecture in Vaccinology Awards
  • The Dr. Charles Mérieux Award
  • Charles C. Shepard Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award

Dr. Orenstein was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2006.

For More Information On Walter Orenstein:

 

Jonas Salk

Dr. Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine in 1955, just before Albert Sabin developed his oral polio vaccine in 1961.

Approval of Salk’s vaccine followed national testing of the Polio Pioneers, one million children between the ages of six to nine years. Salk also gave his experimental vaccine to his children, his wife, and of course, to himself.

In 1955, he appeared on See It Now and told Edward R. Murrow:

Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

Although he could not have patented his vaccine if he had wanted to, he was right that “there is no patent.” The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which he was working for, didn’t patent the vaccine either.

In 1961, Sabin’s live, attenuated polio vaccine replaced Jonas Salk’s inactivated polio vaccine that had been in use since 1955. The United States switched back to IPV in 2000 because of concerns over VAPP.

In addition to his vaccine, his Salk Institute for Biological Studies continues to do research on aging and regenerative medicine, cancer biology, immune system biology, metabolism and diabetes, neuroscience and neurological disorders and plant biology.

For More Information On Jonas Salk: