would you help me?

Last month we shared a lot of information about vaccines and their pros and cons. In a twitter chat, I met folks around the country interested in helping people understand the importance of vaccinating themselves and their children. I have communicated with parents and others about their need to know and understand more than is typically able to be shared during a well child visit at the primary care provider office. And just recently, one of the foremost pediatric practices in the Roanoke valley announced they would no longer be willing to care for patients who refuse to vaccinate or who want to significantly change the vaccination schedule. The US has seen a resurgence of some vaccine-preventable diseases, especially in under-vaccinated communities (measles and pertussis especially).

Because of the importance of vaccines in children's lives, and the widely variable degree of knowledge and understanding about how they work and what they actually do, I am planning, with help from Carilion's strategic development office, to host a series of "Town Halls" for parents and other interested parties, on health topics that need more time than is typically available with one's own physician or other provider. I would like the first of these to be about vaccines in children.

I and several colleagues would like to discuss safety issues, explain the rationale for vaccine development, describe the actual diseases that the vaccines prevent, and generally be available to answer questions and point folks to accurate and rigorous scientific data.

You can help me by answering the following questions (any or all):

  1. If such a town hall were held in your community would you attend? Why or why not?
  2. Who would you want to hear from? Does it matter if the physician is also a parent? should there be a panel and should it include parent(s) who are not providers?
  3. What specific questions would you like to see answered?
  4. Should this be held "live" only or with ability to handle simultaneous tweets?
  5. What role should the media play, if any?
  6. Any other ideas and thoughts are welcome

 

OK, enough work for you for one day. Look, I really, really want to hear from you, no matter who you are, where you live, whether or not you have children, what your vaccine stance is.

 

Comments

Dr. Ackerman - I think the "town hall" on pediatrics topics is a great idea. It would be very beneficial to get more information than can be explained at a normal well-baby visit. I would attend - depending on the time of day it was held! As a new mom of a 4 month old - I want to be at home no later than 6:30 pm so I can start the bedtime process! I would even attend something on a lunch break from work before coming to something at 7 p.m. or later. However, if the panel was streaming online and could handle "tweet-in" questions, that could be beneficial too and would provide more flexibility for parents.

Either way, I think it would also be great if the video of the event/panel could be available online later - so even if a parent had to miss the live event, they could get the info at a later date.

Personally, I would not want to hear from other parents as much as I would from providers and scientists. I would want data backed up by research and/or experience at an event like this to make it worth my attendance. I can go on the internet to get other parent's opinions. The exception would be if a parent had an exceptional case to share about a particular topic - and was speaking about their personal experience to correlate with the other panelists.

I don't have any specific questions about vaccinations - but would be interested in just hearing the local data/information.

Natasha,
Thanks so much for taking the time to provide your helpful comments. We are still working on the timing. I am certain it would be difficult to meet everyone's needs, but that's why its useful to get input up front. We will try to get something scheduled in October or November so folks have a chance to plan.

1. If such a town hall were held in your community would you attend? Why or why not?

Yes because I enjoy learning more about health topics, especially relating to my children. Being able to ask questions in person and get answers right away is nice.

2. Who would you want to hear from? Does it matter if the physician is also a parent? should there be a panel and should it include parent(s) who are not providers?

I would prefer that the physicians be parents because then they can speak from their own personal experiences when having to make decisions for their own children, and not just be coming from the doctor side of things. I think it should include parents because if other parents can ask them why they chose certain things, they are getting the doctor and "real parent" (so to speak) opinions. Yes to a panel and not just one person...more opinions and more ways to answer questions. I don't think I would trust ONE doctor answering everything.

3. What specific questions would you like to see answered?

Why is the vaccine schedule set up like it is? What is the reason for having so many vaccines at one time? Are each of the vaccines TRULY necessary and are they necessary at the time they are being given?

4. Should this be held “live” only or with ability to handle simultaneous tweets?

I don't know.

5. What role should the media play, if any?

Well, obviously advertising the event, possibly reporting on it so that people who did not attend can read about it, and that will increase the audience possibly for the next time.

From my friend Susan:

Here are my thoughts on this issue. I think it is a great idea since there is so much misinformation out there.

I have mixed feelings on practices dropping kids who are not vaccinated. On the one hand, it is the duty of the doctor to provide care no matter what. But on the other hand, I would be very pissed off if a non-vaccinated child who contracted measles was sitting in the waiting room at the ped's office. Kids like Karuna, who can't have live vaccines and cannot develop immunity to a whole class of bacteria, could easily contract it. Other kids getting chemo, babies, and kids with immune deficiencies are in the same situation. So the ped is in the position that he/she has to risk the health of his/her other patients because of one family's personal choice. I would not want to make that decision...

I have unfortunately seen, however, a large group of parents who feel that the fact that their kid gets a fever and irritable with a vaccine is a "vaccine reaction" when in fact it is the immune system working properly in response to the vaccine. Kids like ours get true vaccine reactions...Karuna is tachy and needs oxygen for days after most vaccines. I think a lot of people see a fever and grumpiness and assume the vaccine is poisoning their child, simply because they don't understand the mechanism of how vaccines work and why kids often respond the way they do.

From Facebook:

Keely Like Susan - we are forced to depend on 'herd immunity' - the vaccines we cannot give to him will still directly benefit him as the kids that surround him are mostly vaccinated, meaning that they aren't likely to have (or spread) the more serious vaccine-covered diseases.
The VAST majority of parents are happy to vaccinate their children and their children do just fine with it - and that is what we depend on to protect Brandon. Brandon's first vaccine was MMR at 12 months and it broke my child in so many ways. The vaccine it'self was the culprit - it was the stress it caused on his body that sent him into a tailspin - it happened to be the vaccine, but could just as easily have been a cold, or a hot day. But it was the vaccine. As such - we have not consented to any more vaccines. our doctor supports us, we are confident with our decision, and yet most people not familiar with the situation immidiately assume I am a 'hippy' or just generally paranoid, and that my child should not be allowed to go to school/daycare/public events/etc because he may endanger the other kids (ignoring the fact that most of them are vaccinated).

Grown parents insisting that my child should not be allowed to go to school because giving him a vaccine would literally be putting his life on the line.

So - before people make assumptions about these kinds of things, It's usually best to keep one's mind open before jumping to conclusions - and like all other parenting issues, leave it to the parent and the doctor to sort out - throwing anger/hate at a parent in the middle of what might be a much much harder decision than most can comprehend is flat out cruel.

Things are never black and white.

20 hours ago · Like · 1 person

Susan to make it more clear, Karuna has systemic autoimmune disease and acts functionally asplenic...ie she has no immunity to encapsulated bacteria. Per immunology, she gets yearly revaccinations of Flu, HIB, and PneumoVax, as well as frequent Menactra. She does not get any other vaccines.
Keely, I totally agree with you. I have unfortunately seen, however, a large group of parents who feel that the fact that their kid gets a fever and irritable with a vaccine is a "vaccine reaction" when in fact it is the immune system working properly in response to the vaccine. Kids like ours get true vaccine reactions...Karuna is tachy and needs oxygen for days after most vaccines. I think a lot of people see a fever and grumpiness and assume the vaccine is poisoning their child, simply because they don't understand the mechanism of how vaccines work and why kids often respond the way they do.

20 hours ago · Like

Heather You both are so right. Catherine gets high fevers with some vaxxes, but I don't freak out and say never again, because a fever is your body working to fight something. And yea, Keely, I hear you on the reactions not to the vax per se, but to the stress of the vax on the system. That is totally different than your body working normally. Lindsey has not had reactions TO vaccines, but her system has gone haywire trying to deal with vaccines. We still do them, but her neuro has come up with a pretty strict protocol for her in order for her to get them.
20 hours ago · Like

Catherine Unfortunately "herd immunity" is a myth. If you really research it, you find that the outbreaks are often as high or higher in people already vaccinated. I was vaccinated for both measles and mumps and yet still caught both (neither was a huge deal because I was a healthy kid with decent nutrition, I know that's not the case for everyone). I know lots of folks who have gotten the chicken pox vaccine and still got chicken pox. My question to this panel would be why haven't studies been done on the safety of an accumulation of vaccines in the system (I think we're up to 32 now?). Yes, individual vaccines have been determined to be safe, but why is nobody studying what all of them combined might affect? When will they look at this, or will the big pharmaceutical companies prevent that because they make so much money on this? Could there possibly be a correlation between the rising quantities of vaccines and the meteoric rise in autoimmune disorders? As far as the practice that bans unimmunized kids, no matter what my decision was on vaccines, I'd leave and find another practice that didn't coerce or pressure parents -- I find that pretty controlling, and wouldn't put up with it. I'm a consumer, not a mindless robot that will do their bidding just because they'll shun me if I don't!

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