I began my healthcare journey in the 1980s after enrolling in medical school. All I knew was that I wanted to help people get and stay well. I do not have the experience of pediatricians and family physicians, who have incredible stories to share, but in my humble opinion, I believe that vaccines work.
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A few of these amazing physicians have shared helpful information here, here, here, and here about how vaccines work. Be sure to check out their pages to find incredible information on a variety of topics that may be useful to you and your family.
The growing antivaccination (anti-vax) movement has me confused. I think it is a developed world thing to celebrate where we are, but we forget where we came from.
This is never really a good idea because history has shown that it is more than willing to repeat itself!
At one point, we understood there was a problem, and people fixed it. However, because we personally did not fix it, we do not remember the ugliness that led to the need to create laws to fix it.
This is how exactly how I feel about vaccines.
As an ENT surgeon who has studied and worked in the healthcare field for about 30 years, I have borne witness to the miracles that vaccines have done. There is no question in my mind that vaccines work.
The role of our immune systems on specific reactions
The diseases and problems that we treat do not all act the same in every person. Our individual immune systems play a significant role in determining success. We must learn to assess a situation and understand that every person does not respond in the same way.
For instance, in the spring when the trees bloom, many people are not at all bothered by the pollen, meanwhile, emergency rooms and physician offices are overflowing with allergy patients. We understand that it is just tree pollen; however, individuals act differently to that simple protein.
How many people suffer life-threatening reactions after eating peanuts? Millions. But at the same time, millions of us eat peanut butter every day with no problem. Understanding how our personal immune systems work is key to determining what treatment or prevention each person needs.
Incredible amounts of research have been done on every vaccine available. Each vaccine has a clear indication, and there are clear reasons why a particular person should not take that particular vaccine. The CDC has made an extensive list for vaccines and the specific reason to delay or avoid a specific one. Avoiding all vaccines to avoid a potential reaction would be like avoiding all food if you have a peanut allergy.
Why I believe individual personal stories or fears do not reflect how vaccines work
Since the development of the 1st vaccine against smallpox in 1796, vaccines have become a huge global health success story! Nearly 9 out of 10 people are fully vaccinated, but sadly that number is shrinking.
From my experience, I have found there is an increasing fear about the potential harm that vaccines could do. Consequently, ingredients are analyzed and subjected to unfair scrutiny.
Every medication that we prescribe can be analyzed this way. In fact, no one would ever take Tylenol due to a risk of liver failure and death. This is not a reasonable fear of taking this helpful medication.
Every antibiotic prescribed could result in a life-threatening reaction. If any problem is noted, those symptoms are treated. Physicians then recommend that a specific person no longer take that particular antibiotic again. We do not say all antibiotics are bad for everyone because that is overgeneralizing.
Scientists and physicians absolutely agree that vaccines can lead to reactions due to interactions with the immune system. A detailed plan of which vaccines to take or not take should be highly individualized for everyone.
Science is based on years of monitoring and testing and following trends. It does not point to one success story or one complicated story and draw conclusions. Recommendations and assumptions are made based on large numbers of events over many years. If you hear about a child who had a reaction to a vaccine, there are as many explanations for what happened.
Public health initiatives have saved lives
I think most people will agree that tobacco products have severe health consequences. Back in the old days, these issues were not known, so movie stars proudly smoked on screen. But then the ugly association with cancer was made, warnings were placed on tobacco products and aggressive public health campaigns markedly reduced this occurrence.
But, how many people have that Aunt Suzy who has smoked 2 packs of cigarettes every day? And she remains healthy as a horse? Indeed she clearly has a super immune system, but this does not mean everyone should smoke. The majority of us need to prevent illnesses by avoiding tobacco products.
This was also seen with the huge amount of mouth cancer that baseball players began to develop after chewing tobacco. Once the problem was recognized and chewing tobacco use was discouraged, mouth cancer rates dropped.
Alcohol consumption is clearly linked to cancers, liver disease, and other preventable illnesses. By reducing alcohol intake, rates of diseases have decreased. But yes, there is an Uncle Stanley out there who still drinks a pint of whiskey every day and is currently 105 years old.
It is foolish to look at isolated examples and decide that drinking and smoking are not significant issues. We understand this public health information came from places like the CDC after extensive research. So, why do we think they got it right for these illnesses but not the vaccine-preventable ones?
Now there is a growing crisis with the use of e-cigarettes. Because these products are not covered by life-saving laws covering tobacco, a fancy gadget called the JUUL is now targeting our youth and increasing the risk of becoming cigarette smokers. Research is being done now to hopefully end this trend!
What about the many people who are healthy and never had any vaccines?
Unless you are Uncle Stanley or Aunt Suzy, you are much more likely to suffer consequences if you do not get vaccinated.
Research has proved the antivaccination myths to be false and that vaccines work. They do not cause autism. Recent studies have shown that in our age of distrusting the media, people now distrust also physicians.
I was shocked to see the large percentage of people who feel they know as much as scientists and physicians about vaccines and their complications. Really? School no longer matters?
Anti-vax beliefs are not new. But they have gained more traction due to the internet where propaganda and misinformation are easily spread. Trying to compete against this, my post suggests some outstanding physicians who are active on social media and can provide you with educational information.
I now wish to share my 30 years of experience caring for kids who have dramatically benefitted from the science of vaccines. Without any doubt, I have witnessed how vaccines work!
Incredible life-changing vaccine magic Dr. Burton has witnessed over 30 years
First and foremost, both of my daughters have had every recommended vaccine at the recommended time. They are healthy and thriving young adults. I believe in the science that determined the need to develop the vaccines, and I am extremely grateful that I have not had to witness my girls suffer from preventable diseases.
I cannot begin to address the value that vaccines have done to save countless lives across the world. My personal story includes my journey to learn how to treat several very common ENT diseases that were present in large numbers during the 80s and 90s. Young ENT physicians today have NO IDEA what it was like to have to regularly treat kids with some of these devastating diseases.
3 Vaccines that nearly wiped out common ENT disorders that I used to treat frequently
I trained at a time when the bacteria H. Flu caused infections in the voice box that could lead to suffocation in kids. We had to emergently take them to the operating room to gently place a breathing tube.
Kids died or needed emergency holes placed into their necks to save their lives. This disease, epiglottitis, is now an extremely rare problem due to vaccination, but it was something I looked for and treated regularly. Vaccines work.
Although this vaccine has been wonderful to prevent pneumonia and meningitis, as an ENT physician, I have noted a HUGE reduction in the number of ear infections and ear infection complications. Especially in young kids and babies who have soft bone, the ear infections were associated with life-threatening infections in the bone around the brain!
Because 50-60% of ear infections were caused by this bacteria, I used to have to go to the operating room in the middle of the night to place an ear tube to prevent pressure build-up and spreading infection into the brain! In the middle of the night. On the regular! I also would use a small spoon to scoop out weak, infected bone from the side of infants’ heads. This was unfortunately not a rare event.
Sinus infections would also have more complications with infections readily spreading into the eye area. Emergency surgeries, often in the middle of the night to prevent worsening problems, were a normal part of pediatric ENT to removed infected sinus bones and prevent loss of vision or brain abscesses. Thankfully, this is not as common anymore. Vaccines work.
This vaccine has been widely known as the “anti-cancer” vaccine because it has been associated with cervical cancer in women and oral cancer in men. Getting vaccinated early prevents deadly disease 20-30 years later.
However, as an ENT surgeon, one of the most heartbreaking problems I treated was in babies who had the HPV infection in their mouth, voicebox and lungs. These infants could get infected during birth in mothers who did not even know they had the disease!
There is no cure for laryngeal papillomas, where warts would grow in the respiratory tract. Many kids needed laser surgery every few months to keep them breathing. Some needed holes in their necks to breathe, while others died when the infection spread to the lungs. So, not only does this vaccine prevent cancer in adults, it is important to protect future unborn children. The incidence of this deadly disease has decreased since vaccinations have begun! Again, strong personal evidence that vaccines work!
With the rising trend of anti-vaccination beliefs, epidemics of disease have started spring up. In Europe, measles is causing sickness and death in people too young for vaccination or too sick to fight. This disease was declared eliminated in 2000; however, over the past 5 years, increasing numbers of cases are occurring again in the United States. To save lives, this unacceptable trend must stop!
I highly encourage everyone to have a candid conversation with their physician about vaccine safety. And ask specific questions about specific vaccines. If you are absolutely against a particular vaccine, that is 1000% better than being against every single one. Bottom line, vaccines work. I have seen it. If you are concerned, talk to your physician about it today!
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