The issue of child vaccines was brought up in Wednesday’s second Republican debate and has many doctors worried.
Two of the Republican presidential candidates are doctors, Dr. Ben Carson and Dr. Rand Paul. While both candidates affirmed that vaccines were beneficial for children and that there is no link between childhood vaccines and autism, both acknowledged that some doctors are rethinking how many vaccines are given to children in such short periods of time.
"We have extremely well-documented proof that there's no autism associated with vaccination, but it is true that we are probably giving way too many in too short a period of time," said Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. "I think a lot of pediatricians now recognize that and are cutting down on the number and the proximity in which those are done."
Dr. Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist, also offered his opinion: "One of the greatest medical discoveries of all time were vaccines. I'm for vaccines, but I'm also for freedom. Even if the science doesn't say bunching them up is a problem, I ought to be able to spread my vaccines out a little bit, at the very least."
Many doctors voiced their disagreement with Carson and Paul after the candidates’ debate comments.
Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the division of infectious diseases at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, stated, "The candidates have been given a platform, and with that platform comes a certain responsibility to know the facts. Anyone who knows the facts about vaccines knows that the schedule in which they are given is safe and well-tested."
Another candidate at the debate, Donald Trump, also discussed the harmfulness of vaccines for children, stating the connection between autism and childhood vaccines.
However, the news site Philly.com reports that the 1998 study that showed a connection between autism and childhood vaccines was disproven, and more recent studies have shown that there is no connection between the two.
Dr. Robert Sears, pediatrician and founder of the Immunity Education Group and author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child, stated, "I think parents should have the medical freedom to choose whether or not they vaccinate their child. There is no research that shows that the number of vaccines they give today is a dangerous process. On the other side, the vaccine schedule has so recently been escalated, and we haven't done the long-term safety research to show that what we're doing today is safe."
Dr. Jeff Duchin, professor of infectious disease at the University of Washington school of Public Health in Seattle, disagrees, stating that parents who worry that vaccines will shock their child’s immune system fail to take into account how much a child’s immune system deals with on a daily basis.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that in one day, a child will encounter 10 to 20 times the number of immune stimulants in their environment than are in the entire vaccine schedule," he said. "Really, vaccines provide a very insignificant stimulation from the immunological perspective, compared to what a child has to handle in their daily life."
The debate concerning child vaccines continues as does the debate between Republican presidential contenders.
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Publication date: September 18, 2015