On a Sunday afternoon, my wife and I quite enjoy just flipping through the channels and picking some random TV show to get invested in.  We've gone through, on various Sundays, about every episode of such shows as "One Tree Hill," "CSI," and "NCIS."  Most recently, we began watching "Law and Order."  It's good, mostly mindless activity that helps one mentally wind down before winding back up during the week.  Some episodes are more engaging than others, but there was one recent episode that really caught our attention.  I missed the first part of it, but the basic premise revolved around an infant girl dying from the Measles, supposedly passed to her by an older child in the park that had not been vaccinated. 

We've talked a lot about vaccinations in the past; I consider it to be one of the biggest hot button topics in healthcare today.  There are staunch advocates on both sides.  The supporters of vaccines cannot fathom why a parent would choose not to vaccinate, citing all the horrifying statistics from decades ago when a lot of the things we vaccinate for were more prevalent.  Some believe in vaccines so blindly that they think that the claims that suggest vaccines have caused many cases of Autism are ridiculous.  On the other hand, you've got the detractors who think that the risks for vaccines far outweigh the rewards.  After all, vaccinations are a concoction of either killed viruses or bacteria, germ components, toxic extracts, or live organisms that have been made less virulent through a process called attenuation.  Both sides make valid points. 

This episode of L&O was really all about that battle.  The mother that chose not to vaccinate her child was put on trial for murdering the infant daughter of the mother who planned to vaccinate but her child was too young to receive the MMR vaccine.  In the end, the jury decided that the mother who decided NOT to vaccinate was not at fault.  I probably would've written a much more passionate newsletter about the matter had the opposite decision been made. 

My stance on this issue is ever evolving with the more research that I read and the more horror stories that I see with my own two eyes, but I cannot help but feel the following way: let's say that we conducted an experiment in a downtown area where we would send our kids running out into the middle of the street with an oncoming bus barreling down the road.  The hypothesis is that most of the bus driver's would be traveling at a speed that would allow them to stop their bus in time to avoid hitting the child.  95% or more of the time, the bus driver is able to stop in time, so you feel pretty good when your kid goes up there.  But, low and behold, the bus driver can't stop and you watch your kid get rammed by a bus.  There was a 95% probability that wouldn't happen, but it did.  The stink of it is, that whole situation was completely avoidable.  I figure if I just teach my kids how to look both ways, they ought to be fine and whatever crazy, out of the ordinary thing that might happen can be addressed if it does. 

Looking at the L&O episode about measles...it's just a virus.  It's a rapidly spreading virus and it's something we're obviously not used to, but it's still just a virus.  Like any virus, the key thing you have to do to combat it is have a strong immune system.  Immune systems that are strong can withstand even the strongest of viruses.  People don't get the measles from a vaccine deficiency anymore than a person gets the flu from a flu shot deficiency.  They get them from their immune system being weak. 

Where do you stand on this issue?  I'm open to a friendly debate...

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad