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Immunizations

The topic of immunizations is incredibly controversial. And normally I completely avoid controversial topics, because I really want parents to come together and support each other, despite our differences. But if I pretended to ignore immunizations it would go against my core beliefs. And as a mom, a wife and a woman I just can't do that. Please understand that I respect your opinions and your beliefs, even if we disagree. However, I will not tolerate misinformation, and it pains me that there are parents out there who are unable to distinguish scientific fact from ridiculous nonsense.

Science isn't perfect, but it is absolutely backed by data. And so is the information that I provide. I have 20 years of schooling, 3 years of intensive pediatric residency training and 11 years of clinical practice to back up my opinions, all the while keeping up with all important medical literature on a daily basis. Not to be rude, but your Google search on immunizations will never be enough to challenge my competence as a well informed pediatrician.

As a wife, mom, woman and pediatrician, let me be very clear- Immunizations save lives. Pure, true and simple. This is a medical fact. Immunizations save lives.


Did you know that in the year 1900, the average life expectancy was only about 47 years old? The most common causes of death were infectious diseases such as pneumonia, diphtheria, smallpox, and pertussis (just to name a few). Thanks to vaccinations, the development of antibiotics and improved hygiene, as of 2019 the average life expectancy was almost 79 years old.

Let me explain vaccinations for those who think they are simply a "shot". Vaccinations work by a process called herd immunity. Basically, if all of the people who are able to be immunized against a particular disease receive that immunization, then all of the members of that community who are not able to be immunized against a particular disease are also protected. Put another way, if you receive an immunization, you are personally protected on some level from getting a particular disease, but you are also providing protection from everyone around you from contracting a particular disease.

There are some people who are not able to receive immunizations. Infants less than 2 months old have no protection against any disease. Infants less than 12 months old have no protection against measles, mumps, rubella or chicken pox-except for the protection of heard immunity. Anyone who has a weak immune system can contract a deadly disease-which may have been completely preventable.


In the entitled society that we live in, I would like to gently remind you that vaccinations are not just about you and your children. They are about your grandmother who is suffering from breast cancer and has a weak immune system due to her chemotherapy treatments. T hey are about your child who has asthma and is at greater risk for complications from influenza. They are about the protection of a newborn, who cannot yet receive an immunization to protect her against pertussis, measles, chicken pox and meningitis.

You, as a member of society, have a pivotal role in ensuring the health of the population. Please take that role seriously.


Deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses are fairly rare in our modern times, but they happen. I will tell you that the absolute devastation, guilt and anger felt by the families of a child who has suffered from a vaccine-preventable disease is immense and heart-breaking.

I would like to introduce you to a former patient of mine that I will call J. J had Down's syndrome. He already had heart surgery, was taking thyroid medication daily and had to wear glasses by the time I met him. All of these medical conditions were directly related to his Down's syndrome, which is a genetic disease. Despite all of his challenges, J was a really happy kid- until he met me. I just happened to be the physician who diagnosed him with leukemia when he was 3 years old. That was a bad day for me, but much worse for his family.


J received treatment, recovered and went back to school. But his immune system was compromised. When he was 5 years old he developed chicken pox, after being exposed to this disease from an unimmunized classmate. J spent months in the ICU, and he barely survived. He suffered extensive pain and discomfort, all because this classmate's parents decided not to immunize their perfectly healthy child.

Now before you start forming your own opinions, please take a moment to put yourself in J's place. Chickenpox is miserable! The skin lesions are incredibly itchy! And for J, who was immunocompromised, the lesions developed everywhere. Chicken pox lesions developed down his throat, which made it hard and painful for him to swallow. Chicken pox lesions developed in his lungs, which made it hard for him to breathe. And in addition, he needed IV medications to help his body fight this infection. On top of that, because chicken pox is so contagious, he had to be placed into a special hospital room-which made it hard for his family to visit him.

Can you imagine your 5 year old child locked into a room for months, and your only access to him or her is through a set of 2 doors that are monitored by hospital personnel 24 hours a day?

Parents, I understand your concerns about vaccines and their safety. I've heard it all-Vaccines have preservatives! Vaccines contain additives! Vaccines are a conspiracy! Vaccines cause children to have autism! Vaccines cause epilepsy! I will be honest when I say that immunizations are misunderstood. Please, let me dispel some of the misinformation regarding vaccinations, because vaccines are so important for public health, and we are dropping the ball on protecting ourselves and other. And of course, the internet makes it so much worse.

Parental Concern #1: You just want to make money off of me!

As a pediatrician, providing vaccinations is not a way for me to make money. I do not receive a single penny from providing vaccinations to my patients, and I do not have personal relationship with anyone associated with a pharmaceutical company. I offer and recommend childhood vaccinations because they save lives. In fact, providing the recommended childhood vaccinations often results in a pediatric clinic losing money, because reimbursement of those vaccinations is determined by insurance companies.

For example, it may cost my clinic $75 to provide your child immunity to measles, mumps and rubella. But your insurance company decides that they will only pay $25. So the pediatric clinic will eat that cost, simply because we we want to all to keep people safe from preventable diseases.

By the way, pediatricians are one of the lowest paid physicians of any medical specialty. If a pediatrician wanted to make money off of their patients, they would have become a plastic surgeon instead.

Parental Concern #2: But shots hurt my baby!

I get it. Immunizations are painful, and receiving a vaccine will likely cause your child to cry for a few minutes. But once those few minutes are over, your child likely will be just fine.

The short term negative consequences of immunizations (pain, redness, soreness or swelling at the injection site, fever, irritability) are not enough to justify choosing not to provide your child with the recommended vaccinations. Remember, prior to vaccinations being widely available, people suffered permanent disability or death from diseases such as polio, tetanus, measles and even chicken pox.

Parental Concern #3: But that is too many shots at one time!

Yes, I know that infants are advised to receive a lot of immunizations at once. But currently this is the only way to protect your child from certain deadly diseases. Most pediatricians (especially high quality pediatricians) will follow the immunization schedule that is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and approved by the Centers for Disease Control (aka CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (aka AAP) as well as by the ACOG and AAFP.

I support the CDC guidelines when it comes to the recommended immunizations for each age group. The current vaccination schedule has been thoroughly researched and scientifically tested for many, many years. Billions of dollars are spent to ensure that the recommended immunization schedule is based on scientific fact and that this schedule maximizes safety.

I will work with you if you are uncomfortable with those recommendations and if have your own unscientific vaccination schedule- as long as you allow your child to receive all of the recommended vaccinations. I will not advise you as to which vaccinations are the most important for your child to receive, because they are all important. That's not me being difficult, I honestly can't tell you if it is better to allow your child to be susceptible to contracting Hib, which can cause meningitis or death, or to be susceptible to pertussis, which can cause respiratory failure or death.

Parental Concern #4: Vaccines Contain Preservatives!

Yes, vaccines contain preservatives and additives which keep them safe and effective. No, the preservatives in vaccines are no worse than the preservatives in the food that you eat every day, or in the makeup that you apply to yourself, or in the diet soda that you drink. Yes, you have access to a list of every single preservative in every single vaccination at CDC.gov. No one is trying to hide this information. If you are concerned about the preservatives in immunizations, please read this article. 1

And if you are still concerned about preservatives, I suggest that you stop drinking wine (it contains sodium sulfites), stop drinking almond milk (it contains carrageenan), stop drinking diet sodas (they contain aspartame), stop chewing gum (it contains BHA and BTA), stop eating frozen pizza, sweetened yogurt, canned fruits, granola bars, energy bars, ice-cream, jelly and some cereals (they all contain high fructose corn syrup), stop using hot sauce and fruit juices (they contain sodium benzoate), stop eating tortillas (they contain propyl paraben), stop using any plastic water bottles or plastic food storage containers (they may contain BPA), and stop using non-stick cookware (it contains PFOA).

Parental Concern #5: Vaccines Cause Autism!


No, vaccinations do not cause autism. This has been proven time and time again in over 100 solid medical studies (as opposed to the forged initial study linking MMR vaccination to autism).

Let me explain where the idea that MMR vaccination causes autism came from. In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study in a medical journal called The Lancet which suggested that the MMR vaccination may cause autism. This study only included 12 children and was funded by the lawyers who were involved with lawsuits against vaccine-producing companies. 3 of those children in the initial study did not actually have autism. 5 of those children had developmental delays that were diagnosed prior to the administration of the MMR vaccination. The entire study that was published in The Lancet was a compete fraud. Need more evidence? Read these articles. 2. 3.

Parental Concern #6: The flu shot will make my child sick! I don't want it.

If your child receives an injectable influenza vaccination, it is theoretically impossible to cause them to become ill. Injectable influenza vaccines contained a killed virus, which is unable to cause infection. Y'all, the components of the vaccine are dead. Dead viruses cannot cause infection. What actually happens is that there are over 200 common cold viruses, and you or your child may become sick from one of those viruses after you receive an influenza vaccination. It's simply a coincidence.

And why is the influenza vaccine (aka flu shot) so important? Influenza kills over 2900 people yearly, according to the CDC. 4

And for the parents who choose to refuse all vaccinations for their child for any non-medical reason, I truly wish you would choose a new pediatrician, because I am not the best pediatrician for your child. I am not trying to be mean or difficult. But how can we have a trusting relationship when we disagree about such a fundamental issue?

And no, I am unable to do anything about un-immunized patients in my clinic because I am simply an employee in a large health care system.

Parents of un-vaccinated children, please understand that you are a liability to me, to my patients, and to yourselves. If your un-immunized child brings measles into my waiting room, and in turn an infant (who is unable to be vaccinated against measles) dies of measles-related complications, we are potentially both at fault. You are responsible (and from a legal standpoint you are liable), but I am most likely getting dragged down as well.

No, I do not enjoy having my staff administer vaccinations to your child. If there was another way to protect your child from disease that could cause permanent disability or death, I would be all for it.

No I will not tell your child that they are due for "a shot" because you don't like their behavior. Yes, I cringe every time that a parent tells a child that they will get a shot if they do not behave. Immunizations, whether needed or not, should not be used as punishments.

I understand that people had chicken pox parties in the past, but before the varicella (aka chicken pox) vaccination was developed, 100-150 kids died from chicken pox every year. 2 Yes that is a small number, but what if it was your child who died? What if your child exposed another child to varicella and they died? Can you live without that beautiful soul? Can you live with the guilt of knowing that you could have prevented the death of your child or of your child's friend? I couldn't.

Vaccinations save lives. Please, provide your infant and child with the vaccinations that are recommended by your pediatrician. Vaccinations are not a scam, they are not a way for doctors to make money off of you, and we do not vaccinate because we want to hurt your child. Quite the opposite.

If you have questions about immunizations, please talk to your pediatrician. If you want more information about immunizations or about vaccine-preventable illnesses, please go to cdc.gov. Do NOT google search-you will end up with a bunch of inaccurate information.

And if you choose to not provide your child with the recommended vaccinations, you need to understand your responsibility to society. Because your decision does not just affect you and your child-it affects everyone that your child comes into contact with. Each time your child presents to an urgent care center or an emergency room, it is your responsibility to inform the medical staff that your child is not up to date on their immunizations. It is your responsibility to inform your child's school that your child is not up to date on their immunizations. This is not a punishment, this is called being responsible for your actions.


The scientific truth is that vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives. Please, roll up your sleeves, suck it up and roll of the sleeves (or pants) of your children and do your part as a member of society.


References: 1. . https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/112/6/1394.full

2. https://www.healio.com/pediatrics/vaccine-preventable-diseases/news/print/infectious-diseases-in-children/%7B24b5933b-b212-4b86-b170-d8097c205a64%7D/wakefield-study-linking-mmr-vaccine-autism-uncovered-as-complete-fraud

3. https://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452

4. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/flu.htm