From one side of the Atlantic to the other, we’ve all been hearing the health headlines: “Whooping Cough is on the rise in infants and children.” “A surge of Measles and Chicken Pox are seen in Sussex.” “Drug-resistant TB Becoming a Concern.”

These are diseases that were laying dormant and, in some cases, were even thought to be completely eradicated in the 1950s and 1960s. According to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), five babies have died in England and Wales this year as a result of whooping cough. In Sussex alone, there have been 142 reported cases in the county – that’s four times the number recorded last year.

In the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is classifying the rise in whooping cough (also called pertussis) as an “epidemic.” According to Dr. Carol Baker, the United States is seeing more cases of whooping cough this year alone than it has seen since the vaccine become available in the mid-1940s.

Why the sudden rise in these seemingly old-school viruses? A leading culprit may be a lack of parents vaccinating their children combined with an increase in highly infectious strains of these viruses being passed from adults (an age when the vaccine wears off) to children. Ever since the rumors began about the potential link between Autism and vaccinations, many parents have begun to question their pediatricians or even avoid vaccinating their child(ren) altogether. This reaction has perhaps contributed to the rise in certain “retro” viruses like whooping cough, chicken pox, and perhaps the most serious, TB. The Center for Disease Control spent years studying to see if there was any truth to the rumors of the link between autism and vaccines and, in 2010, finally reported on their findings: “The researchers found no increased risk for autism associated with prenatal exposure or exposure to thimerosal-containing immunizations in infancy or early childhood.”

Despite these findings, one out of every ten parents in the United States still have a distrust of the CDC’s results and that of the medical establishment at large. Interestingly, however, most parents do trust their family physicians to guide them in making the right choices for their children when it comes to everything from breastfeeding to courses of antibiotic treatment and beyond.

If parents are so trusting of their doctors, perhaps the solutions lies in families talking directly to their child’s pediatricians or their family doctors and raising any questions they have about vaccines.
In return, more doctors should advocate an open door policy and start a dialogue about these epidemics and the spread of highly contagious diseases and infections and educate parents on the value of vaccines, especially now that it has been proven several times over (and around the world) that there is no link between Autism and vaccines.
Remember, we’re not just talking chicken pox and minor infections here. Whooping cough and TB can be deadly in infants and small children. Educate yourself on the immunizations available to your family, talk to your doctor/pediatrician and arm yourself with information. But remember, the longer you wait, the higher the risk is for your child’s exposure to these “epidemics.” It’s important to make informed decisions, but don’t put off making a decision if you’re worried a vaccine might result in high fevers and a cranky baby – that’s a small price to pay when the ultimate price could be your child’s life.

Copywritten by Jo Frost

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