There’s no shortage of misinformation swirling around the topic of vaccines. National Immunization Awareness Week was established to provide a source of truth for parents seeking to understand the science behind these protective offerings. Vaccines protect and save millions of lives each year. Tony GiaQuinta, MD, PPG – Pediatrics, breaks down the myths, the value and his personal passion for these helpful medicines.
What vaccinations do you recommend for pediatric patients?
Only those that are safe, effective and prevent serious illness. Keeping your kids well is my job and I take it very seriously. The vaccines we give in our clinics are the ones recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the most powerful medicine in my bag. Without advocating for them, I wouldn’t be able to keep our children as healthy as possible.
Are there any vaccinations you would consider optional?
Given the safety of immunization, I don’t believe there is any advantage of getting sick if we can prevent it. Looking at it another way, is there an illness you would let your child suffer? Of course not! The opportunity to prevent disease, safely and effectively, is medicine’s greatest weapon. In the spirit of loving our neighbors, I think the added benefit of keeping our community healthy and preventing loved ones from getting sick is a moral win as well.
Why is it important to hit vaccination milestones and stay on schedule?
Just like Aerosmith, I don’t want to miss a thing. Protecting our children should occur as soon as we safely can. For reference, parents can see the CDC immunization schedule. There is no good evidence that spacing vaccines is safer, but rather, delays protection which is the whole point of immunization.
How do you address some of the big myths or hesitations attached to vaccines?
With access to information readily at our fingertips, it’s really hard for families to decipher fact from fiction. Truthfully, we all tend to seek out the information that backs up our thoughts and feelings, which usually have roots in our upbringing, the news or radio channels we listen to, or social networks. This confirmation bias really gets in the way of seeking out the truth. If you trust your doctor (and I hope you do!) you should be able to have an honest dialogue and discuss conflicting information. This doesn’t have to be a contentious conversation!
To help go about this, I start by finding a common ground, and start with agreeing on a premise. I like to recognize how much the parent loves their child, and understand the goal is centered around making the best health decision for the patient. I might say, “I see how much you love your child, and wondering if vaccines are safe can be confusing with all the information out there. I want you to know, it’s my sacred duty to you, as a father, scientist and pediatrician, to ensure that what I recommend is safe and in the best interest of my patients.” I let parents think about it, understanding that trust requires time and experience. Way more often than not, parents without feeling forced, bullied or manipulated, decide to protect their children with safe and effective vaccines.
What should parents do if they fall behind on vaccines?
Don’t worry! Thankfully, the majority of children are vaccinated on schedule, which is why we have an absurdly low prevalence of these disease (but not eradicated, unfortunately). Call your doctor or one of our outstanding community partners like Super Shot, and they can ensure your little one is protected to the max.