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why you don't trust your doctor....

...enough to fully immunize your child

Immunization awareness month is coming to an end. We have shared posts describing immunization schedules, side effects and ingredients; the rationale behind immunization against diseases that are generally fairly mild (such as chicken pox--varicella); my early work in vaccine development; how adult immunity can help prevent infants from contracting serious diseases such as pertussis (the bacterium that causes whooping cough) and most recently a video from a TV interview about measles prevention.

I have mentioned to you that some of the interactions I have had on Twitter have helped me learn that parents often feel pressured into allowing their children to receive vaccinations, and that many times doctors seem to either not care if the parent doesn't want the immunization, or care quite a bit and argue about its necessity; but do not frequently engage in an educated discussion or provide links to more in depth information.

During a Twitter chat about social media and vaccines, I decided to initiate a series of TOWN HALLS to give parents (and any one who wants more information) a background in how the immune system works, and engage in a conversation about the pros and cons of vaccinations, as well as descriptions of the diseases the vaccines aim to prevent. I am giving a lot of the credit for this idea to Heather, a mother of two young children, and one of the frequent commentors to this blog.

By happenstance, Heather was participating in one of the same Twitter chats about vaccines, and helped me to see the importance of making information available to you, so you can make an informed choice at the doctor's office.

Now, I am not sure how well this will work; but I would like to give it a try. The real question is:

Will you come and will you bring your friends, co-workers and others who have questions?

Should we open the discussion to only those who can attend in person? , or should we use Twitter, Facebook and Google plus to take questions and disseminate information? Do you think a TV or radio station would be interested in broadcasting such a session (live)? Maybe we could take calls and answer them on the air.

What kind of information will be most helpful?

A piece I heard on NPR today suggested that it is very hard to help people un-learn something they have previously learned, even if its wrong. So if I bring you data, but you have a friend who is convinced her daughter became autistic from a vaccine, do you think I will change your view? Will it be helpful to you to hear about children I have directly taken care of with pertussis, chicken pox, meningitis, pneumonia, etc who might have lived if they had been vaccinated against the disease that caused their death?

Please let me know if any of this makes sense, and what kind of format will work best.

I am thinking an evening program at a central location with 2-3 scientists/physicians present and maybe a parent, who can address questions, concerns and try to engage in a conversation--something docs don't have time to do every day at every appointment in their offices. If it draws an interested group of parents in Roanoke, then we would take it on the road.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog, and thanks in advance for your advice on how we can work together to ensure the best possible health for your child and all the children in southwest Virginia.

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