Adventures in Medicine

Medical School and Beyond!

Can we Make a Difference and Change Humanity?

on March 28, 2015

Stories on the news and floating around social media are enough to make one sick from humanities disregard to God ‘greatest work art.’  From telling a Down Syndrome high school student he needs to remove his varsity letters from his jacket, kidnappings, ISIS killing innocent people.  To parents who outright refuse to vaccinate their children.

This last aspect has been on my mind a lot lately with the recent Measles outbreak as well as the vaccine lecture in my Kaplan review as I prepare for the USMLE exam this summer.  Vaccination is so important, I cannot stress that enough, it is how we were able to eradicate small pox from the world and are making strides to eradicate polio in the not so distant future.

For most of the population vaccines are safe!  They do not cause Autism!  Let me say that again vaccines are not responsible for Autism.  Unfortunately, several years ago a group of scientists published a paper which claimed a component of vaccines was responsible for the rise in Autism which caused a shift in the vaccination pattern resulting in fewer and fewer children getting their vaccines.  It came to find the research behind this paper was flawed and tweaked, all but one of the scientists rescinded their name from the paper and apologized, and it could not be repeated (in the scientific community that means it is not trustworthy).  Still vaccine companies reacted to their loss of money as people were choosing not to vaccinate their children and removed the preservative talked about in this paper.  So even if there was a little credit in that research it is not a risk to children.  However, parents are still saying no to vaccination in higher numbers than in the past and part of this is because of spokes people like Jenny McCarthy.  This makes my job as a Doctor in training harder as I have to educate parents the importance of vaccines and about their safety.

Vaccines are important for so many reasons.  For starters it prevents diseases that can kills or disconfigure people who get infected with the microbe.  That said not everyone can get vaccines because of other health issues such as Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, AIDS, allergies, and pregnancy (for some vaccines).  For other people vaccines do not produce immunity due to the deficiency of necessary immune components that result in immunity such as kids with DeGeorge syndrome.  This is not a problem when 99% of the people around those who cannot get vaccinated are vaccinated as the microbe will not presented to the unlucky unvaccinated individual (this is considered herd immunity).  However, with a decrease in vaccination rate herd immunity is lost and these people who cannot get vaccinated are at risk of severe disease and since they have an immune deficiency their disease will be more severe than a normal healthy individual.  For you parents out there thinking of not vaccinating your kids let me ask you would you place your friends child in harms way when a car is heading right for them?…NO?  Well they why would you put them at risk by not vaccinating your children?

Additionally, vaccines decrease the risk of disease.  The chickenpox vaccine prevents chickenpox but it also prevents shingles and herpatic neuroalgia later in life as these diseases are not possible if chickenpox was not acquired earlier in life.  Vaccine also prevents certain forms of death such as from rabies.  See if one contracts rabies and begins to show symptoms it means their remaining hours on earth are numbered as only 5 people have ever survived a rabies infection.

Let me use measles as an example.  This vaccine is not given until about 15 months of age (it can be given to 12 month old babies as well) therefore infants are at risk of contacting this virus as a result of the recent outbreak and the disease is much worse in them than a 5 year old. Measles itself does not seem too bad a disease as it causes a rash starting behind the ears of the patient and moving down their body, sores in the mouth that look like grains of sand, a cough, coryza (inflammation of mucous membranes), and conjunctivitis (red eye with discharge).  A condition that most people will recover from without any issues.  However, sometimes the measles virus will find its way to the brain where it works slowly (it can evade the immune system) causes subacute sclerosing panenxephalitis later in life (can be decades later) where there is degeneration of the brain and spinal cord.  This can be prevented by starting the MMR vaccine series as soon as possible.

All in all parents who chose not to vaccinate because of a risk of autism (a risk that fake) open the door for their children to contract a deadly or painful disease.  I do not know about you but for me the choice to vaccinate is a no brainer and is something I hope my future patients opt in for as long as they are able to.  Actually, I think ObamaCare should have included a law requiring vaccinations for everyone who has no medical reason to refuse them.

I dream of the day that doctors have a hard time diagnosing diseases like chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps, etc because vaccination rates are so high that they too become eradicated like smallpox and the doctors have never seen a single case.

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Bek Moody

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