Creation of a COVID-19 vaccine is the crown jewel of the White House’s COVID-19 response. President Trump unrealistically named the tedious and time-consuming endeavor “Operation Warp Speed.” To be licensed for use, a novel vaccine must be tested for safety, immune system reactivity, and protective value in humans, which can take up to 10-15 years. Unlike medications, which treat patients with a medical condition, vaccines are given to healthy people, therefore the safety margin must be extraordinarily high.
While Washington lawmakers had good intentions, their actions were largely symbolic, because they overlooked a few issues that will interfere with this law having its’ intended effect. According to the Washington State Constitution, “absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship shall be guaranteed to every individual…” And to that end, the new vaccine exemption form replaced the philosophical exemption with a new box for parent-initiated religious exemption.
Washington State Law allows vaccine exemptions on the basis of religious, philosophical, or personal reasons; therefore, immunizations rates are considerably lower (85%) compared to states where exemptions rules are tighter. Immunization rates are directly proportional to the narrow scope of state vaccine exemptions laws. Immunization rates are used to “rate” the primary care physician despite the fact we have little influence on the outcome according to scientific studies.
Every year when this child comes in for an annual check-up, I think back to the moments when I seemed like both hero and villain. This fragile infant recovered and has grown into a young man. It is important that physicians be intelligent, caring, empathetic, and work hard, but sometimes timing can make all the difference. While I do hope my future holds more days as a hero than a villain, this young man is a constant reminder for me to be grateful to those parents who place their precious children in my loving hands.
She is completely healthy and thriving, yet has contracted the influenza A virus, which is a serious threat to her well-being. Her mom, who also has influenza, said “I have never been more sick in my entire life.” That pretty much sums up the entire Influenza A experience.
Influenza is the seventh leading cause of death in children under the age of 14 in the United States. Illness can be life-threatening and needs to be taken seriously. A flu vaccine is developed each year to keep up with the ever changing strains that are circulating. This year 2015-2016, the strains circulating match the vaccine accurately. Last year 2014-2015, the vaccine was less than 50% preventative. I hope you find this information helpful.
I believe in parent choice and do not believe in mandates when discussing healthcare. Patients must have autonomy. I use an alternative vaccination schedule when my vaccine-hesitant families request it. Mine evolved over time to complete most of the required vaccinations by the time a child is 2 years old. It is not “evidence-based”, the catchphrase we use to say something is scientifically proven safe and effective. However, it is rooted in something I value highly as a pediatrician – trust, open communication, and compromise.