I feel that vaccines have been a huge advance in medicine. They not only prevent the initial disease process but more importantly, prevent serious complications of those disease processes. Take for example, HPV vaccine. It prevents warts caused by human papilloma virus but also prevents cervical cancer caused by that disease. Another great example of this is chicken pox. Many parents don’t see the benefit in preventing a disease that most of us survive after several days of itching and fever. However, children can get serious complications such as encephalitis and severe cellulitis. Many people object to vaccines based on flawed assumptions and poorly conducted studies. There are some contraindications to certain vaccines in some populations but these can be evaluated on a case by case basis. There is no good evidence that vaccines cause autism. I believe strongly that we as providers need to provide accurate information to our patients in regards to the risks and benefits of individual vaccines. Patients and parents of patients, on the other hand, need to make their own decisions about vaccines but need to understand it is also their responsibility to their community to be vaccinated if possible so as to prevent the spread of disease to those who are unable to be vaccinated.
Dr. Jennifer M. McCarthy graduated from the Virginia Commonwealth University SOM in 1991. She works in Plymouth Meeting, PA and specializes in Family Medicine. Dr. McCarthy is affiliated with Einstein Medical Center Montgomery.