Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Vaccinations continue to transform the world (May 19, 2010)

Thank you for your running “Vaccination is an essential social contract.”

As a parent, I know that there are risks involved when we vaccinate our children. But for many of us, we also know that vaccines aren’t just about protecting our own children; vaccines are about protecting all children. Vaccines are about individual and public health.

Parents are often right when they say their children will survive whooping cough or the measles, so there is no need to vaccinate. But what about the newborn in their neighborhood who is too young for vaccines and will not survive?

I am often struck by the fact that we have the luxury to discuss whether to vaccinate or not, when in the developing world mothers are begging for vaccines for their children, millions of whom die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles, tetanus, pneumonia and diarrhea.

And to the great relief of many mothers around the world, the two leading killers of children worldwide, pneumonia and diarrhea, finally have vaccines to save their children’s lives. For those mothers able to access these new vaccines, I imagine they must feel like what my children’s great grandmother, now 85, felt after hearing there was a new vaccine for polio. After watching her oldest son be crippled by the effects of the disease, she was overwhelmed with joy and relief that she could protect her younger children from harm.

Vaccines transformed our country when they were introduced and continue to transform the world. We have much to be thankful for.

— Stacy Carkonen

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