Hi all -
Stumbled across the board, read three threads and felt my blood boil, and tried to resist jumping in but couldn't.
In order to ask my (stupid?) question, I am going to have to set aside my knowledge that over one million children die of vaccine preventable diseases each year (http://www.who.int/immunization/newsroom/GID_english.pdf ), and no folks, this doesn't include the flu, which kills another 300,000 - 500,000 people a year, including adults; cervical cancer, which kills about 250,000 women annually; meningitis; or any number of other contagious diseases.
My question, to those of you who choose not to vaccinate your children because (I assume) you perceive the threat of immunization to be higher than that of communicable disease (which, again, I am trying to set aside), is - do you expect them never to leave the developed world in their entire lives? Never to travel?
The reason I ask this, is that the diseases that kill those 1.5 million children per year that I mentioned above, the diseases against which you have the luxury of not vaccinating your children because you live in a rich country that has been so successful with its prevention efforts that your risk perception has shifted... those diseases still exist. And setting aside the fact that, yes, there remains only a small risk your children will contract them in the United States, or Canada, or Japan (although still larger than the risk that they will suffer an adverse effect from a vaccine), these diseases aren't only present in the rest of the world, they are COMMON.
And they are very, very dangerous.
Just something to consider.
A note to citizendeux - whose steadfast support of vaccination I find admirable - I've always viewed this as a question of risk perception on the part of the parents. To those living in a society mostly free of communicable disease, the risk of an adverse effect seems much greater (comparatively) than that of their child dying from the measles. I guarantee that the same parent, raising a child in West Africa or South Asia where the relative risk of disease is much higher, would absolutely choose to vaccinate. The parent is simply acting in what he or she believes to be in the child's best interest. Our challenge as public health professionals (or clinicians) is to find better ways to present the evidence to make sure that parents not only know, but UNDERSTAND the real risks of these diseases. I'm not proposing a polio-style propaganda campaign, but perhaps something like better targeting, improved message framing, and interpersonal communication skills training for our providers.