Why I vaccinate my kids

Being a new parent is exhausting. All of a sudden, you're out of the hospital and on your own with this amazing, tiny human, and you alone are responsible for her care. You're given reams of paperwork about feeding and sleeping, developmental milestones, red flags to look out for. You're inundated with information you barely have time to look at. Mom is trying to heal from childbirth while barely sleeping, while her partner is trying to pick up the slack and pitch in as much as possible. You both fumble with the car seat, thinking that NASA must have equipment that's easier to figure out. You obsessively check your sleeping baby to make sure she's still breathing. You worry about every sneeze and try to decipher her cries. Is the diaper too tight? Is this acne normal? What do I do about her poor dandruffy head?

Do I vaccinate?

vaccineWilliam receiving the first of  his 2-month vaccinations

I know it can be scary. You might have heard from friends or relatives, or read on the internet, that vaccines can harm your baby. You may be concerned about autism, or think that "natural immunity" is better than that which develops from injections. You may think that the diseases she's being vaccinated against "aren't all that bad," or that kids today receive too many vaccines. You might feel that your physician is "bought out" by "big Pharma" and that your health care providers are writing off your concerns.

I know you just want to do what's best for your child. I feel you. I'm the parent of a teenager, a tween, and a 2-month old. Here is why I vaccinate my children.

William vax 2William receiving his vaccinations

I've spent almost 20 years of my life studying infectious diseases up-close and personal, not from random websites on Google. I've worked with viruses and bacteria in the lab. I respect what germs are capable of. I worry about vaccine-preventable diseases coming back because of low levels of herd immunity. I cry over stories of babies lost to pertussis and other vaccine-preventable diseases. As I've noted before, chicken pox has played a role in the deaths of two family members, so I don't view that as just a "harmless childhood disease." Vaccines have eradicated or severely reduced many of the deadliest diseases from the past: smallpox, polio, measles, diptheria.

But that's not the only reason I vaccinate. I vaccinate because I'm all too aware of the nasty diseases out there that still don't have an effective vaccine. My current work focuses on a germ called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ("MRSA"), a "superbug" which kills about 11,000 people every year in the United States. We have no vaccine. I previously worked on two different types of Streptococcus: group A and group B. Group B is mainly a problem for babies, and kills about 2,000 of them every year. It leaves many others with permanent brain damage after infection. We have no vaccine. Group A kills about 1,500 people each year in the U.S. and can cause nasty (and deadly) infections like necrotizing fasciitis (the "flesh-eating disease"). We  have no vaccine. These are all despite the fact that we still have antibiotics to treat most of these infections (though untreatable infections are increasing). Infectious diseases still injure and kill, despite our nutritional status, despite appropriate vitamin D levels, despite sanitation improvements, despite breastfeeding, despite handwashing, despite everything we do to keep our kids healthy. This is why protection via vaccination is so important for the diseases where it's available. If vaccines were available for the diseases I listed above, I'd have my kids get them in a heartbeat.

w after vax 1William with daddy, right after finishing his vaccinations

I've done my best to keep my kids healthy and safe. I nag about bicycle helmets and make sure they're getting exercise. I make them eat vegetables. I don't move the car until everyone is buckled up. My older kids were in booster seats for what felt like forever, as both were on the small size for their age. Vaccinations are just one more part of this arsenal. I'm well versed in the safety data and know that most vaccine side effects are minimal (fever, soreness at injection site). They don't cause autism, or SIDS, or any of the other claims made by dubious sites such as Natural News or Mercola. They do save lives and prevent disease by training the body to recognize and fight germs.

My youngest recently went in for his 2-month shots. He cried a bit when he received them, but not any worse than he does when he needs to be burped, changed, or held. He slept a little extra that evening, but was back on his normal schedule the next day. At his visit, he received the oral rotavirus vaccine; his second Hepatitis B shot; his pneumococcal vaccination; and the combination shot including diptheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and Haemophilus influenzae (DTaP/polio/Hib). Each one I see as a small measure to support his health and safety, as well as my own peace of mind, knowing that I did what I could to protect him from infections that used to kill thousands of children every year. Some still do when vaccination isn't available or accepted--measles killed over 120,000 people in 2012, most of them young children who hadn't been vaccinated.

W after vax 3William at home after his vaccinations

We all try to do the best by our children. As a scientist who's studied infectious diseases, vaccination is a no-brainer for me, and I worry for the children out there who are left undefended against these infections because of misinformation and wrongly-placed fears. I know these parents are trying to do right by their kids, but infectious diseases don't recognize good intentions. As I sit here with my baby breathing softly beside me, I am thankful for those who came before me and dedicated their lives to protecting children like him, and grateful that he will never have to suffer from infections that were the scourge of earlier generations.

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Excellent post, Tara, and charming baby!

By Robin Ryan (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

Wonderful post! William is adorable--and protected. Love it.

Now, that's a great post. Not just because it's well-written or well-informed (though it's extremely both), but also because it pulls all the elements together and applies them to a real mother and a real baby. I've never seen it done better.

Every parent should read this whether they vaccinate their children or not. My husband almost died because of chicken pox. When our oldest was four you'd think we rush out to get her the vaccination that was brand new. We made an appointment with our pediatrician and discussed it. And then she was vaccinated. People need to trust the experts. Not celebrities. Not random blogs. MRSA almost took my baby sister. She was a new mom who was breastfeeding and that's where the dang organism attacked her. She had to stop breastfeeding her son. She was in the hospital for over a week. It was so scary. To think of diseases like polio or measles making a return on top of the super bugs floating around is scary. And it's just reality. These are the facts.

Thank you for writing this. I really appreciate you and those who've come before you. I wish you the best of luck in your work. You're son is beautiful, too. He truly is.

What's also really important is protecting those who cannot be vaccinated. A good friend had a severe allergic reaction to the pertussis vaccine and was unable to get the booster for it because of that. Sure enough, an un-vaccinated child managed to get her sick in elementary school. Herd Immunity is so important for those who, for one reason or another, are physically unable to get their vaccinations!

By Sam Kelly (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

Excellent column! Just wanted to thank you before the anti-vax crazies show up

To those parents who want "natural", I point out out, you know what's natural? For half of all children to die before the age of five. That was the toll of childhood disease, for centuries.

That's the natural balance between humans and viruses, without the intervention of vaccines. You still prefer "natural"?

Love William, and great post!

By Garnetstar (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

This entire article is based on one (false) assumption:

Vaccines are effective.

If vaccines actually worked as advertised, I would agree 100%. BUT...they don't. This article falls apart at the foundation because this assumption is flawed.

This person obviously has experience with germs and viruses but does not given any experience with vaccines.

Sorry but this is not credible.

By Steve Walters (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

And your experience with vaccines is exactly what Steve Walters?

He is sort of correct, vaccines work about 99% of the time, 1% or less or so do have a reaction, but that is compared to tens of thousands who got sick before.

Erik - My experience is purely what I can read off the CDC and WHO website and others.

I also don't try to write a blog like this without defending the core assumptions.

My point is not to point to my own knowledge, but to suggest this blog is unworthy of consideration.

By Steve Walters (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

Can you point to evidence proving (even suggesting) that the claim that vaccines are effective is false. (by the way, no one EVER has claimed 100% effectiveness). So anyway, nice try.

By Laura Gill (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

Steve- I can read those same websites and those core "assumptions" need no defending. In fact I just went to both the CDC and WHO pages looking for ANYTHING that alludes to the concept that vaccines don't "actually worked as advertised." Both organizations state unequivocally and without hyperbole that herd immunity resulting from the widespread use of Vaccination has diminished or eradicated diseases that once killed MILLIONS, adults and children alike. This is a well known FACT, not an assumption. It is backed up by decades of scientific and social research and borne out by real world results.
So, am I missing some sort of hidden context in that short, uninformed response to a LONG article by an actual health professional. Or are you just baldly lying to promote a personal agenda? Which is it?
Your point doesn't seem to have any point.

By Chris Doring (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

The first question to ask Steve Walters is what do you mean by the pharse vaccines aren't effective. They clearly are - in humans you can look at the relationship between vaccination and the prevalence of diseases such as polio, smallpox and even measles. But we don't need to just see those associations - look at animals. Distemper in dogs - a disease caused by a virus similar to measles - can be vaccinated against. We have heaps of data that shows that if you give distemper to vaccinated dogs they are vastly less likely to get disease. We've even managed to eliminate Rinderpest using vaccination - another measles-like virus (DeSwart et al 2012 - current opinion in virology). We have lots of animal vaccines where we have data that shows vaccines prevent disease in animals infected with the virus or bacteria after vaccination. What is it about humans that makes vaccines ineffective!

By John Pertwee (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

@9 Steve Walters
Did you have someone help you with the big words let alone the math?

Smallpox used to kill millions. Once an identifying characteristic was "He is not pock-marked". Now it is extinct except in two laboratories.

Polio killed or crippled tens of thousands of children a year well into the 20th century. Now it exists in only a couple isolated pockets of the world.

Measles, Rubella, Pertussis and Chicken Pox used to be epidemic. Now outbreaks only happen when science-hating ignoramuses are allowed to spread disease.

Rotavirus, one of the leading causes of infant and child mortality in the developing world, is on its way out because of vaccines.

Gardasil is set to prevent 70% of cervical cancer, but only if people stop listening to you and your sort.

Hi Tara,
Lovely child. My older brother from Sweden was vaccinated against TB. Being born in the US, I wasn't. What is up with that?. Today I turn 59 and am glad my 24 year old son was not hit by the childhood bugs that I was. I missed the worst ones because of vaccination. In 1990 the vaccine schedule was I think 6 months and one year for the first year. My son's pediatrician wondered why my son was only seen then. Hey the kid never got worse that a cold. He always got his vaccines. The sickest he got was a bout of three months of low grade fever of unknown origin, three days in hospital for many tests. No diagnosis that was useful. Medicine still has many mysteries. Resolved itself. I'm glad I never had to worry about him like my parents worried about me when I had combined Strep throat and Whooping cough. Me I support vaccination. I've run up against an anti-vaccer who displays his severely disabled son at every opportunity. He doesn't do it to try to normalize his son's life. He is on an anti-vac crusade. There is NO talking science to him. Tragic for all.

By Kenneth Mareld (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

Steve Walters, can I safely assume that you have not the slightest shred of evidence supporting your claims? Claiming a blog is unworthy of considering, but then failing to back up your argument seems a little disingenuous at best.

IOW, come up with some solid evidence (as in links), and who knows, you might convince me. Until then I'll assume you have no case, and your comments are little more than FUD.

Thank you Tara, for such an informed post. I teach AP Biology in PA, and it has become my lifelong mission to enlighten as many young people as I can to the world of science. Unfortunately, there will always be men like Steve Walters, or women like Jenny McCarthy, who think, simply because they can go to a website and read, that they are qualified scientists. Vaccines, like evolution and climate change, are proven.
To Steve Walters: there are risks involved to getting vaccinated, just as there are risks involved to eating peanuts or playing in a yard where there are plants and bees. May I suggest that the next time you act as a "voice of reason" bring some factual evidence (or cite a particular study) to back up your claim. Otherwise, stick to the Discovery Institute or Answers in Genesis...you'll fit right in.

By Mark Hess (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

Those who claim "natural immunity" will work fine are correct. Only problem is, the way it works, is that only a portion of a given population survives a given illness, like the 1918 flu, or German measles. Or smallpox. That survival rate could be 75%, or it could be 25%. Or it could be less, depending on the illness and the population. Bubonic plague wiped out entire towns in the Middle Ages. Some estimate that in the decades after Europeans arrived in North America, 90% of Native Americans died of smallpox alone. Before the age of vaccines and antibiotics, when women gave birth to 12 to 20 or so children apiece over their childbearing years, they were lucky to have 5 of them survive to adulthood. Some died from accidents, but most died from illness or infection, many currently preventable via vaccines. So, about the best Mother Nature has to offer is a 25% survival rate. Modern American women give birth to 2.5 children. 25% of 2.5 isn't even one whole child. Yeah, the "natural immunity" way works fine for entire populations and for survival of species, but for individuals, it can be quite brutal. None of us should ever forget that Mother Nature can be a real bitch. And I'm not going to depend on God coming to the rescue, because we all know He works in mysterious ways. So...between Mother Nature vs modern medicine...I choose modern medicine!

Kenneth in comment 15 said: "My older brother from Sweden was vaccinated against TB. Being born in the US, I wasn’t. What is up with that?".

Not all diseases are prevalent in all parts of the world, fortunately. There is no reason to give a vaccine to a local population that has a tiny or nearly non-existent chance of becoming infected. Since vaccines have costs and some side effects (though usually small), it's a quite rational public health decision to give vaccinations only where needed.


Thank you for taking the time to blog on this important subject.

Mr. Walters:
I don't know what websites you are actually viewing which support your sweeping generalizations, but here on Earth we have some authoritative and reliable organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which maintains a website with a wealth of accurate and helpful information about vaccines.

Interestingly enough, that organization has the same abbreviation (CDC) as the one you cite. The content of the website you frequent must be vastly different than the CDC's site here on Earth.

By Harrison Bolter (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

@ Steve Walters:

"Erik – My experience is purely what I can read off the CDC and WHO website and others. "

then you lie.

ALL of those sites have well documented links to literally HUNDREDS of peer reviewed, properly controlled studies proving the efficacy of even things like the latest flu vaccines, let alone vaccines for things like whooping cough.

anyone can see for themselves in an instant, just by going there:


so, I have to ask. Do you get paid to lie by "Natural News", or do you lie for the fun of it?

because your lies are dangerous fallacies, and people die because of them.

Will you take responsibility for the harm and death your lies cause?

I'm betting not.

Tara: Excellent and well said, in all ways, and you have a cute baby there. This is what we need to see more of, in general public forums with mass audiences. Have you thought of getting your piece published (pictures included) in any large-circulation print magazines?

When I was a kid I got mumps and chicken pox, and a flu that kept me home from school for two weeks. Everyone was scared of measles, particularly "German measles." But my mom said I had gotten a measles shot so I couldn't get the measles. As an adult, I rarely get more than a yearly cold that consists of a few days of stuffy nose and sore throat. Once I understood herd immunity, I started getting the flu shot every year. I don't like needles, but a tiny little needle is much less scary than the risk of being sick in bed for two weeks.

Steve Walters is a no-show with no evidence, who should be ignored as a troll if he pops up here again, unless he has verifiable citations from peer-reviewed journals.

I have a suspicion that an undesirable side effect of vaccination early in life may be an increased risk of cancer late in life.
This is based on a finding that fever may cure cancer. More than a century ago fever therapy was used with some success as a cancer therapy.
It would explain why cancer rates are going up.

If fever theroy is true then fever in a child may eradicate cancer that would show up fifty years later.
This could and should be investigated by asking cancer patients about their vaccination history.

By Saetronic (not verified) on 14 Mar 2014 #permalink

Hi Tara, great article. I'm glad you mentioned Diptheria as, for some reason, it often seems to get forgotten in discussions of vaccination.

Now think about that for a moment. A disease whose very mention terrorised parents and children _within living memory_ is now virtually forgotten. Vaccines - I love 'em!

By Colin Rosentha… (not verified) on 14 Mar 2014 #permalink

Saetronic, *everything* that prolongs life increases the risk of cancer. We don't understand fully what causes the wide variety of things all named "cancer", but it's quite likely that everyone will get cancer sooner or later provided something else doesn't kill us first. The corollary of this is that until we can prevent cancer reliably, anything that reduces the incidence of death from other causes will increase the incidence of cancer. I don't know about you, but I'd rather my son dies of cancer as a centenarian than of whooping cough before his fifth birthday.

By Marcus Hill (not verified) on 14 Mar 2014 #permalink

I was of that same mind set about vaccines, until I discovered the majority of vaccines are lased... research has proven that the increase in: ADD , ADHD in children is due to vaccination, modified foods, fluoride in our water and more... I know that Naturopathic DR's have homeopathic remedies to replace the vaccines to protect your child. The other thing that would make a difference in our baby nervous system, would be vaccinating them at the age of 3 when they're nervous system is fully developed. there decreasing the ADD life altering conditions for our children.

Liah, I'm sure you will gladly provide us with links to peer-reviewed studies or meta-analyses published in respected journals that support your claims. Especially about homeopathic remedies. No? Didn't think so.

Liah, "lased"--as in hit with lasers? One, that is not true at all, and two, even if it were, I'm not sure how that would lead to development of ADHD.

Kenneth Mareld @17: Generally people in the US aren't vaccinated against TB because the most common vaccine -BCG- only realy ptotects children, and the immunity doesn't last and can't be boosted. It's a problem researchers are still working on.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 14 Mar 2014 #permalink

Liah writes:
"Naturopathic DRs have homeopathic remedies"

No need to read past that point. Naturopathy is fringe at its very best. Homeopathy is utter woo and quackery. Always has been. Always will be.

Mr. Walters:

This entire article is based on one (false) assumption:

Vaccines are effective.

If you choose to come back and actually answer questions truthfully, then please answer this one:

The following is American census data on measles incidence through most of the 20th century. Look at it. Why did the incidence of measles plummet 90% between 1960 and 1970? Do not mention deaths, nor any other decade, nor any other country (England and Wales are not part of the USA).

The data:
From http://www.census.gov/prod/99pubs/99statab/sec31.pdf
Year.... Rate per 100000 of measles
1912 . . . 310.0
1920 . . . 480.5
1925 . . . 194.3
1930 . . . 340.8
1935 . . . 584.6
1940 . . . 220.7
1945 . . . 110.2
1950 . . . 210.1
1955 . . . 337.9
1960 . . . 245.4
1965 . . . 135.1
1970 . . . . 23.2
1975 . . . . 11.3
1980 . . . . . 5.9
1985 . . . . . 1.2
1990 . . . . .11.2
1991 . . . . . .3.8
1992 . . . . . .0.9
1993 . . . . . .0.1
1994 . . . . . .0.4
1995 . . . . . .0.1
1996 . . . . . .0.2
1997 . . . . . . 0.1

I'm sorry, I'm having trouble concentrating on information about vaccinations and diseases because your baby's intense cuteness is distracting me.

By Michael Wells (not verified) on 14 Mar 2014 #permalink

Oh, and also, I linked this on my Facebook page. Beautifully stated. Thanks for writing this.

By Michael Wells (not verified) on 14 Mar 2014 #permalink

I feel the article did not make herd immunity points enough. I admit that argument was perhaps avoided cause it doesn't resonate with selfish people so much. Here goes:
If I vax my kids they obtain some protection, but if we as a community have high rates of vaccination, the protection obtained by my kids is even greater.
I think a fairly scary-sized piece of the public still doesn't get that. Not vaxing endangers others.

Congrats on the adorable baby, Tara. And thanks for the great article.

By Joshua Roberts (not verified) on 15 Mar 2014 #permalink


Any credible scientific research that links ADHD to vaccination. Don't waste your time as there is zero evidence.

A child who develops meningitis from Hib faces a very real possibility of life long disability d/t meningitis.

Complementary and alternative medicine can help augment the effectiveness of treatments but they do not work well alone.

By Viking RN CNP (not verified) on 15 Mar 2014 #permalink

Beautiful essay and beautiful baby. He's lucky to have you and your partner as parents. I'm also a mother of two kids and I also work as a facilitator for new mothers. What you are saying is extremely important and I salute you for the graceful and generous way you presented the information. Contra Rork's point at #38 I think that many of the anti-vaxxers are incapable of caring about "herd immunity" because they are coming from a frightened, angry, solipsistic and libertarian point of view. They are simultaneously willing to free load off of what they imagine is permanent "herd immunity" (that's the libertarian moocher part of their logic) and also opposed to doing things that benefit other people (that's the other half of their libertarian viewpoint). You can't successfully argue a fearful, "rights based" perspective around with an appeal to the needs and rights of others.

That being said I think the essay works, at least to me, because it lowers the rhetoric and focuses instead on the practical and the personal experience of the author which is extensive and on point. I think this anti vaxx thing will slowly burn itself out as society becomes less tolerant of these cranks and makes it more difficult for them to act out their childish fantasies: when doctors and schools will no longer take their children and the penalties for not vaccinating become severe only a few of the true believers will keep refusing to vaccinate. It will burn out like opposition to seat belts and flouridated water and exist only in some pockets of idiocy.

Colin Rosenthal--I was just thinking about diphtheria, as vaccines have been so much in the news lately, and so many denialists are saying things like "measles isn't a dangerous disease and it's better to have it in childhood and receive a natural immunity." For one thing, what's the point of having "natural" immunity if you've already had measles? I guess the idea is that people won't get it twice, but they wouldn't anyway...trying to parse out the arguments of these people makes my head hurt. Anyway, yes, I think we're lucky there hasn't been any big outbreaks of diphtheria in the US recently, because that is a truly scary disease with a very high death rate. No one could argue that it's better to risk a 1 in 5 death rate (or whatever it is, I believe it changes with the age group) rather than get a vaccine. Or maybe they would--who knows? As I said, the anti-vaxxxers make my head hurt.

Tara, what a beautiful baby boy. You are very lucky to have such a wonderful family. Must be interesting to have kids of such differing ages.

It's absolutely astounding-- baffling, really-- how many deeply stupid people will look something up on the internet (oh, you misunderstood something you "read" on the CDC website? Great, here's a cookie, kid) or be utterly scammed into (oh, you have a naturopathic "doctor", really? Can he explain anything about T-cell function?) and anoint themselves experts in a field. Even more so when actual human lives are at stake.

These are generally people who seem to understand that they lack the skill to change the oil in their own cars or repair their plumbing and so call a professional to do it for them.... but when it comes to the infinitely more complex human body, well, no problem they'll just wing it.

Somewhere the educational system in this country has gone horribly wrong in not educating people about credible sources of information.

Here's a clue: if you can't even spell the words involved, maybe just maybe seek an actual professional's opinion before making a decision about health and immunity that in the end affects us all.

One thing I will say as a doctor, though: I am glad when these idiots like Steve Walters and Liah here make their ignorance public. At least we know who to target for education or, at worst, avoid. It's the larger numbers of stupids who remain mute yet still act on their wrongheadedness that are a real menace.

By DrDr Mark (not verified) on 15 Mar 2014 #permalink

Ms. Smith, why should we listen to you if you've never modeled nude? Sheesh.

Seriously, though, I've shared this on facebook and twitter and a couple of places where people are proposing not vaccinating as a "personal choice." It needs tons more exposure now that Kristin Cavalleri has weighed in as an expert and her antivax sentiments are being spread all over the internet.

Congratulations on the article. And WIlliam looks adorable!

My mother was born in 1930s. She lost two of her three siblings to vaccine-preventable diseases. As a result I and my sister got all the vaccines that were available in our times. Which, unfortunately, did not include chicken pox, but that's another story.
Anyway, my niece in turn got all the vaccines that are recommended now. She's 5 at the moment but I've already started talking to my sister about HPV vaccine (which, unfortunately, is not mandatory, which means my sister will have to pay for it, and pay a lot). Hopefully, she'll listen to my voice of reason (only joking).

Herd immunity should be taught beginning in elementary school and reinforced all the way through secondary school.

In the early years it can be taught with a game using pennies or some other small objects to represent germs. When kids start learning how to use computers, it can be taught in the context of computer viruses. In health education classes it can be reinforced in the context of hand-washing after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food.

If this is done right, the only way anti-vaxxers can object is to oppose teaching the germ theory of disease, at which point they will be recognized as complete whackjobs and completely discredited.


The way to tackle the "rights-based" / libertarian objection, is that nobody has a right to impose a risk on others, and each of us has a right to not have risks imposed upon us by others. Once you have agreement in principle, the public health data make the conclusive case. Any further objection is science-denialism and can be dealt with as such.

Great article. As a physiciabn Assistant for over 30 years , with time in Africa, Pakistan, and 10 years in the PICU I too know the importance of vaccinations. One voice that needs to be mentioned is Deidra Imus,. an idiot if ever there was one, I am waiting for Don, to give her his famous line, " what are you nuts". She against vaccines, but believes in long distance Reiki. Ya , that works.

By Mirno Pasquali PA C (not verified) on 16 Mar 2014 #permalink

Mark Walters - not to pile on, but your comment reminds me of 2 things...
1. Access to the internet appears to be the only requirement to espouse Scientific Theories & expect them to be treated with equal credibility. No matter how much the writer may have invested into the research, no matter the portion of their lives that they devoted to their discipline, just reading on the subject instantly makes you their peer - this is a troubling development.
2. We are victims of our own success. Now that these diseases have been eradicated via the MMR vacine, folks like Steve conclude that there was never an issue. The fact that these diseases are now largely historical because the vacines work is actually the reason that they think that the Vacines do not work.

Let me say it: Thank you Scientists! Thanks for your devotion, your rigor & amongst the many, many great inventions I have enjoyed, making my life easier, thanks for the vaccines so I never had to suffer those terrible ailments.

By Mike Tieman (not verified) on 17 Mar 2014 #permalink

I like this article it is a little something different.

By Sullivanthepoop (not verified) on 17 Mar 2014 #permalink

Tara, thanks for sharing your unique and informed Mum/scientist perspective here, and especially for reminding us of the importance of herd immunity. I'm old enough to have grown up before childhood vaccines were widely available, so I and my four sibs suffered through measles, mumps, whooping cough. One of my closest friends is now disabled with post-polio syndrome - almost six decades after she was diagnosed with polio as a toddler.

For those anti-vaxxers who have never watched a tiny child struggling to breathe with whooping cough, I recommend this scenario shot in the Intensive Care Unit at Mayo Clinic (if you can stand watching it - it's pretty grim): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3oZrMGDMMw

Thanks, Jenny McCarthy....

By Carolyn Thomas (not verified) on 18 Mar 2014 #permalink

Good piece Tara. Love to have you on the radio show to talk about it.

By Robert Herriman (not verified) on 19 Mar 2014 #permalink

Great article. Everyone needs to realize how important vaccines are and stop relying on "natural" health, pseudoscience and fear-mongering of the anti-vaccination people.

When I was a baby and before there were vaccines for the rotavirus I got it and had to be hospitalized for weeks from severe dehydration and was very near death when I was taken there by helicopter.

Parents who think they're doing what's best for their children (when, in fact, they're not) are putting everyone in danger and I don't see how this is okay or any different from parents who refuse to get their children treated for life-threatening illnesses for religious or other purposes. When their children get sick with something that could have easily been prevented with vaccines they're very much at fault.

Tara, thank you so much for your well written blog! From someone old enough to receive the smallpox vaccination, I know how important it is to vaccinate, not only for ourselves, but for everyone around us. Our family is up to date on all our vaccinations!