Vaccines have been a hot topic in the news lately because of the recent measles outbreak. A growing number of parents have increased worries over immunizations, despite the medical community confirming the safety and benefits of vaccines.
Dr. Phyllis Townsend, a pediatrician in Franklin, TN, is concerned about recent trends that leave children unprotected from potentially deadly diseases. “If you walk through an old cemetery, you can see why vaccines are important. Many people lost a child, often under the age of one, from diseases that are completely preventable now,” shares Dr. Townsend.
Dr. Townsend believes that parents are avoiding vaccines because of misinformation that links vaccines to autism. She says that people are scared and blame vaccines, but that there is “no evidence in science that vaccines cause autism.” She states that vaccines are safe, and that the side effects are very mild and short-lived such as a low-grade fever, which are nothing compared with the actual disease.
At Pediatric Associates of Franklin, where Dr. Townsend is one of seven doctors, they follow the vaccine schedule recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some parents want to spread out the vaccines, but “spreading them out,” she says, “opens the baby up to potential infections.” For example, pneumococcal diseases in babies less than six months of age are potentially deadly, but the recommended schedule begins vaccination at two months of age. If the recommended schedule is not followed, the baby is open to infection for a longer time frame when they are most vulnerable.
Parents, grandparents, and caregivers of newborns should be revaccinated to protect the baby. Pertussis, known as “whooping cough” or the “100 day cough,” is a disease that pregnant mothers are revaccinated against between weeks 27 to 36 in order to prevent severe infant illness or death. Fathers should be revaccinated, too, as well as siblings. According to the CDC, in 2012, there were over 48,000 cases of whooping cough because of a lack of vaccination, resulting in 20 deaths.
Children who are not vaccinated need a really good pediatrician, Dr. Townsend points out. This generation of parents doesn’t have a concept of a world with terrible diseases like polio. “People used to forgo swimming pools in the summer just to avoid getting polio,” she says. “Because new parents never lived through outbreaks of now-preventable diseases, they don’t understand how vital vaccines are.” She hopes to come alongside parents and educate them on the importance of vaccines as well as their safety.
Above all, Dr. Townsend loves watching the children in her practice grow up healthy. The relationships with families in her practice as they change have kept her going for over 17 years. She has seen kids grow up, graduate, and, now, bring their children back to her office.
Vaccines are an important part of having healthy children. Vaccinate and revaccinate to prevent infant mortality and keep your family safe.
Pediatric Associates of Franklin is open 7 days a week, located at 570 Bakers Bridge Avenue, Franklin, TN, and can be reached at (615) 790-3200 or http://www.pediatricsoffranklin.com.
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