Letter to the Editor
I am writing in response to your article, “Vaccine Culture in the Neonatal Intensive Care” by Sara E. Rostas, Volume 31(3), July/September 2017. I was excited to see this article in your journal, as I feel vaccination has been a hot topic in recent years. In my experience, many parents feel they can alter the recommended vaccination schedules to suit their own ideas and theories, without any consequence. As a neonatal intensive care unit registered nurse, I feel that educating parents on the importance of routine vaccination is paramount. Your article provides information that will assist nurses in their daily evidence-based practice.
Because of the decades-long success of vaccination, many parents today have no understanding of the severity of many eradicated or nearly eradicated diseases. They focus their concerns on the dangers of vaccine additives instead of focusing on the possibility of death resulting from refusing or deferring the vaccines. According to Time magazine's 2014 article, titled “4 Diseases Making a Comeback Thanks to Anti-Vaxxers,” many states have seen vicious outbreaks of measles, mumps, whooping cough, and chicken pox.
Thanks to several celebrity “anti-vaxxers,” there are many preventable diseases that have made a comeback. Many uninformed parents may choose to follow the advice of these public figures because they appear knowledgeable and their voices are the loudest. These parents are looking for answers and simply want to do what is right. I propose a call to action: for all healthcare facilities to present fact sheets to parents faced with the choice of vaccinating their children. The fact sheet should present the risks and benefits in such a way that parents fully understand what their child could be subjected to should they choose to refuse. According to the World Health Organization's 2017 “Immunization coverage” fact sheet, immunizations prevent 2 million to 3 million deaths every year—just from the measles, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines alone. An estimated 1.5 million more deaths could be prevented if vaccination coverage improves.
I feel confident that the facts presented by your article, along with the most recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, can create a handout that can change the fabric of our society. I feel it is our duty as healthcare professionals to educate our communities so that our trusted reputation for caring for others can only be surpassed by our ability to transform the future. Change starts at home. Let's be the force that pushes our healthcare institutions to initiate the dawn of a revolution.