The vaccine issue is one of the most heated among parents these days. Do you vaccinate your kids? Skip vaccines? Slow vaccinate? Whatever you do, a measles outbreak in Texas should certainly make parents stop and think about who they're getting medical advice from, especially when it pertains to their kids.
The outbreak has affected 11 people so far, including a baby as young as 4 months old, and health officials have tracked it back to a church. Eagle Mountain International Church, it should be noted, is part of the Kenneth Copeland Ministries, whose eponymous pastor is known for promoting faith healing and the (debunked by scientists) myth that autism and the vaccine that prevents measles are linked.
Now Copeland's daughter is urging her congregation to get vaccinated, but the damage is done. The disease is spreading, in large part because of the 11 people sickened, eight had never been immunized.
And mark my words, this is a dangerous disease, especially to 4-month-old babies. The CDC warns that measles is rare -- because of vaccinations in America -- but highly contagious and possibly deadly. This is straight from the CDC:
While measles is almost gone from the United States, it still kills nearly 200,000 people each year around the world. Measles can also make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage or give birth prematurely.
So why would anyone take the word of their pastor on this matter? They may be experts on theology, but they're certainly not experts on medicine.
Vaccines are an important issue for parents, and one I understand researching. You don't have to take it on blind faith that you should vaccinate your child.
But when you're doing that research, the most important thing is to make sure you have GOOD information, that you're going to valuable sources. A blog written by some conspiracy theorist living in his grandmother's basement is not a valuable source. A mommy group of women who still believe if they simply share a post on Facebook, Bill Gates will give them $5,000 is not a valuable source. Your checkout clerk at your favorite grocery store is not a valuable source. Your pastor is not a valuable source.
You know who is?
If you don't trust one, go talk to a few; it's not wrong to get a second opinion.
You can also check with the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, even the Department of Health and Human Services.
You need science to make these decisions. Science, reason, and complete transparency (yes, I do believe that you should check to see if pharmaceutical companies have funded studies on vaccines).
Who do YOU turn to for advice on vaccinating your children?
Image via Army Medicine/Flickr