Do You Believe in Vaccines: (Part II: Evidence)
Dec 17, 2010

This article was written by Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, FAAP and originally posted on her Seattle Mama Doc blog on Dec. 1, 2010 .  As a board-certified, practicing pediatrician, blogger, freelance writer, and mother to two young boys, Dr. Swanson elicited responses from many prominent doctors to the question “Do You Believe in Vaccines?”.  In an effort to help our Shot of Prevention readers to gain further insight into the value of vaccines, as witnessed by those working in the field of medicine, she has graciously granted us permission to reprint the entire three part series.  
I asked a group of 33 pediatricians what they would say to the question, “Do you believe in vaccines?” while standing in line for coffee. I asked for their help in thinking about an effective, 2 minute answer.
This is part 2 in a series. For detailed information behind the why, read part I (emotional responses) or watch the video explaining how this came to be. As I said, I’m not a believer in scripts. I’m not attempting to suggest there is one, 2 minute segment for every family that will help. Part of the reason I started this blog was that in practice, I realized when I told families what I knew and learned in training, they listened. When I told them what I did for my own children and how I felt, they made decisions. Telling my story seemed essential.
(This is going to sound familiar) I don’t want to increase the divide between those parents who are worried or skeptical of the possible harms of immunization, and those parents, doctors, and experts and who believe in the benefits. Rather, I want to regain our similarities.
Today I’ve included responses from pediatricians that mentioned things that I experienced as “evidenced.” But rather than talk to you about numbers, causality, rates of autism, and the absence of thimerisol in all childhood vaccines (except multi-dose flu shots), these comments focus on the evidence that helps physicians discuss immunizations with families. There was a paucity of numbers in the responses from these physicians.
Dr Gayle Smith (@MDPartner), a general pediatrician in Richmond, VA says it best:

I’d say how much I wished pediatricians were better ‘rock stars’ with our message of prevention so we could be more effective in the media limelight.  I’d speak my own willingness to touch the hearts of the families I care for, to carry the bag of fear and worry for them, perhaps lessening their load a bit.

To read the remainder of this post, click here.  You will be redirected to Dr. Swanson’s original piece.  Feel free to include your comments on Seattle Mama Doc, or here on Shot of Prevention. 
Dr. Swanson’s background includes a degree in psychology from Kenyon College, two years teaching middle-school bilingual science and math in Oakland, Calif., with Teach For America, an MD and MBE (Master’s in Bioethics) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and a pediatric residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Swanson maintains a busy pediatric practice and writes Seattle Mama Doc, the first pediatrician-authored blog for a major children’s hospital.

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