Vaccinations help populations avoid preventable diseases. According to the World Health Organisation, vaccinations save between two and three million lives annually and prevent the suffering of many more. Due to vaccinations, we have eradicated smallpox, and have come close to achieving the same with polio. Measles, once a common occurrence, was eliminated in Canada in 1998 due to our immunization program. Part of the efficacy of vaccinations stems from the group immunity we gain (i.e. herd immunity), which creates a barrier of protection to stop infectious diseases from reaching at-risk members of the population.
Unfortunately, when an administered vaccine successfully prevents a given disease, people may overlook the significance of this achievement. When these largely eradicated diseases are not frequently seen, the continuing need to protect children and the population at large from such diseases becomes less obvious. While most Canadian parents are vaccinating their children on schedule, some are delaying, or even refusing the vaccinations.
One reason for the hesitancy among parents over vaccination is due to a study in 1998 linking the measles-mumps-and-rubella vaccine to autism. The findings were deemed fraudulent, the study was retracted, and the doctor’s license was revoked; yet the idea continues to concern parents today. Since then, many studies have explored this idea of a causal relationship between vaccination and autism, but no study has been able to find evidence of this.
Unfortunately, Canadian experts say measles cases have resurged in recent years, mainly due to the growing number of parents who refuse or delay vaccinating their children. When families refuse to vaccinate, physicians must assess the risk this may pose to other patients - particularly children who may be too young or too ill to get immunized. Some North American paediatricians have even begun dismissing families who refuse to vaccinate their children.
At Arbour Family Medical , we strongly recommend all patients stay up to date on their immunizations absent specific medical reasons to the contrary. As a reminder, we vaccinate to protect ourselves, as well as our families, friends, and extended community members through herd immunity. When we ourselves get vaccinated, our entire communities benefit from the safety net of this herd immunity. This protects vulnerable individuals such as children, the elderly, patients with cancer, pregnant women, patients with diabetes, and immunocompromised patients.
Proud Partners of the Guelph Family Health Team.
Arbour Family Medical Centre offers comprehensive health care services for the whole family.