Vaccine Policy Statement
The physicians and staff of Birmingham Pediatrics are committed to the health care and safety of your child. Part of that commitment includes our recommendations for preventative health care, including vaccinations. We recommend that all children and young adults receive the routine vaccines according to the schedule published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Vaccinating children and young adults is one of the most important aspects of the health care we provide to your children. As a parent, choosing to immunize your children is one of the greatest protections you can offer to them.
We know of the effectiveness of vaccines to prevent serious illness and to save lives. Additionally, we have confidence in the safety record of the vaccines. The recommended vaccines and schedule are the result of years and years of scientific research and study by our best scientists and physicians. In fact, we anticipate that the ongoing research will continue to lead us toward providing even greater protection for the children and grandchildren of the next generation.
These things being said, we recognize that there has always been and will likely always be controversy surrounding vaccination. Indeed, Benjamin Franklin, persuaded by his brother, was opposed to smallpox vaccine until scientific data convinced him otherwise. Tragically, he had delayed inoculating his favorite son Franky, who contracted smallpox and died at the age of 4, leaving Ben with a lifetime of guilt and remorse. Quoting Mr. Franklin’s autobiography:
In 1736, I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the smallpox...I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it, my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.
The vaccine campaign is truly a victim of its own success. It is precisely because vaccines are so effective at preventing illness that we are even discussing whether they should be given. Because of vaccines, most parents have never seen a child with polio, tetanus, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis, or even chickenpox, or known a friend or family member whose child died of one of these diseases. Such success can make us complacent about vaccinating. But such an attitude, if it becomes widespread, will lead to tragic results.
Over the past several years, many people in Europe have chosen not to vaccinate their children with the MMR vaccine after publication of an unfounded suspicion (later retracted) that the vaccine caused autism. As a result of under-immunization, there have been outbreaks of measles and several deaths from complications of measles in Europe.
In recent years, we also have often had questions regarding autism spectrum disorders. It is our firm opinion, based on the scientific research and our experience, that neither vaccines nor vaccine preservatives cause autism or other developmental disabilities.
We are making you aware of these facts, not to scare you or coerce you, but to emphasize the importance of vaccinating your child. We recognize that the choice may be a very emotional one for some parents. However, we believe that vaccinating children according to the recommended schedule is the right thing to do. Delaying or “breaking up” the vaccine schedule goes against expert recommendations and can put your child at risk for serious illness and disability (or even death) and is against our medical advice. Finally, if you should absolutely refuse to vaccinate your child despite our recommendations, we will ask you to find another health care provider who shares your views.
As medical professionals, we feel strongly that vaccinating children on schedule with currently available vaccines is a vital aspect of the health care we provide for your family. Thank you for taking the time to read this policy, and please feel free to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about vaccines with any one of us.
James H. Wamack, M.D.
Teresa Goldsmith, M.D.
Patrick N, Farr, M.D.
Max Hale, M.D.
Liesel French, M.D.
Kelly Tapley, M.D.
Robert Sellers, M.D.