Dr. Andrew Wakefield should be criminally prosecuted for his fraudulent work that led to an increase of morbidity and mortality around the world. He preyed on parents’ intrinsic desire to protect our children for the sole purpose of economic remuneration. Parents who, despite our concerns, choose to vaccinate our children find no respite. Wakefield bolstered the ideas of the anti-vaccination movement with a false validity that threatens herd immunity, and now we are faced with the reemergence of diseases that threaten who we most want to protect, our children.
I do not take vaccinating my children lightly. Given my PhD in public health, I understand the risk of vaccinating better than most. Still, I dread the moment and agonize over possible consequences. My husband likes to remind that statistically the chance one of our girls will be afflicted by a negative outcome is very small, but this does nothing to quell my fears. The bottom line is that while there is a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of being struck by lighting, if you are the one struck, you are not likely to care about all of those that were not. I get it! Still, I cannot forget the unforgettable story of Jessica Esquivel.
Jessica contracted Chickenpox in 1990, five years before the vaccine became available, but developed a streptococcus infection that evolved into toxic shock and resulted in the loss of her extremities. This was a rare complication just as a few years ago polio cases, measles outbreaks, etc. were rare. It was even more rare to die of childhood disease, but today that is no longer the case.
We know the very real dangers of disease. History has documented this. There is also a history of vaccines accomplishments and failure. The bottom line is that I have to weigh reality against speculation, statistical probably, and hope against fear.