May 1, 2014


Dr. Ed Clark: Immunizations today are a hot button issue. How do you as parents approach the issue with your health care provider?

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Dr. Ed Clark: Hello this is Dr. Ed Clark, chair of the department of pediatrics and I have with me today Professor Seth Mnookin from MIT who's the author of the book "The Panic Virus". Professor Mnookin, many families are concerned about immunizations and about the risks that it poses for their children. How would you encourage a family that is approaching immunizations to think about this?

Professor Seth Mnookin: Well one thing that I would really strongly recommend is that if this is something that they want to discuss with their healthcare provider, that they let that health care provider know beforehand. I think anyone who has children knows how stressful a wellness appointment can be, because you don't have a lot of time and there's a lot to get done. And I know that doctors and nurses often times feel very under the gun when they're in that setting and then on top of that a mother or father says, oh and by the way I heard that vaccines are bad for X or Y reason, that's often times not very conducive to a discussion.
So when you're making the appointment, or when you call to confirm the appointment, if you can say, one thing I would like to make sure we have time to discuss is my concern about vaccines. And then your health care provider is going to know that that'll be an issue and hopefully will be prepared either to say, we don't have time to fully discuss that today, but here are some online resources that I would recommend you look at, here is the CVC website, here is someone in our office that you can schedule a time to talk with, something like that. So in the same way that I think parents don't like to come into an appointment and be told, oh and by the way, we're also going to be doing X, Y, and Z to your child today, doctors don't like having an appointment that they think is going to be a standard appointment and then all of a sudden being told, oh and I want to discuss, in the 30 seconds we have remaining, these very volatile issues.
I would also really recommend to parents that if this is something they're concerned about, instead of going online and typing in vaccines concerns, or whatever, as a Google search term, they really think about the source of the information and be intelligent consumers of information. So go to places like the American Academy of Pediatrics website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has a very good vaccine information center. These are all resources that today, thank goodness, are written in such a way that are comprehensible to people without medical or scientific backgrounds, and really in a pretty detailed, in a pretty detailed manner address a lot of these concerns.
Another thing that I think is really important to remember is vaccines are the most studied medical intervention that we have. So this is not something where we're kind of flying blind and saying, oh well, I think this is going to be the right thing for you to do, so let's do it. Parents can be very assured that when they go to the CDC site or the AAP site, what they're getting there is distilled research from decades of studies, literally done on millions of children. So I would recommend that and then really just kind of giving a heads up to your health care providers beforehand.

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