January 7, 2019
Since the day I wrote about my journey leaving the anti-vaccination movement, I have experienced the wrath of the anti-vaccination community. When I write about how important it is to vaccinate your child, I regularly receive comments like this:
“It is worse than pre meditated MURDER to be telling people that vaccines are safe.”
“You cannot make POISONS safe even in the witches brews called vaccines.”
“I don’t even believe you are real…you are probably a lying troll.”
“Her picture looks more like she runs an escort business…rather than her being an NP (Nurse Practitioner)“
“Maybe she will change back to her original stance on vaccines if she finds that she can’t sleep at night thinking of all the vaccine damaged children.”
“Nurses like you made my life a living hell…”
I have been maligned.
Honestly, if the negative comments just pertained to me, I would leave it at that and move on. However, it’s a much bigger problem. My profession and fellow co-workers, the medical providers who dedicate their lives and careers alongside me to children’s health, are being maligned as well. These physicians, nurses, researchers, and public health advocates, who spend every day making this world a safer place for your child, are my heroes. I can’t allow them to be maligned with me.
So, have you ever wondered why your child’s pediatric health provider wants you to vaccinate your child? As one of those pediatric health providers, let me shed some light. First of all, let’s get the myths out of the way.
“Follow the money” they say in the anti-vaccine community. Yes please! Let’s look at the money.
I DO NOT vaccinate children because it is profitable to me. My office, as well as all the other pediatric offices I know of, fronts thousands of dollars every month to pay for vaccines. We are lucky if we break even. We order vaccines, and then we pray that insurance companies or the Vaccines For Children Program pay us back for them. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. If they do pay us, trust me, it is barely enough to cover the cost of the vaccine and the administration of it. I know and have worked at several offices in my area alone that stopped offering vaccines altogether and started referring to public health offices because they could not continuously keep losing money buying and administering vaccinations.
Vaccines given in America are, in many respects, as much of a humanitarian effort as vaccines given in third-world countries. If all I cared about was truly making money, I would let disease ravage the children of this country instead of preventing it. The CDC estimates that among the children born during 1994-2013, routine vaccination will prevent an estimated net savings of $295 billion in direct costs and $1.38 trillion in total societal costs from morbidity and mortality. Even if they over-projected the cost-saving value of vaccines, do you know who would be getting a large piece of that several hundred-billion dollar pie if we stopped vaccinating children today? Me. I would, along with all the other pediatric providers I know, because in an unvaccinated world, I would be taking care of far more children suffering from measles, mumps, rubella, haemophilius influenzae type B, tetantus, polio, and the list goes on. You know who else would make money? Mortuaries. That’s not the world I want my precious patients to live in. We are not playing with the common cold. We are fighting deadly diseases.
Preventing illness is a whole lot less profitable than sick, dying children if you just ‘follow the money.’ But your pediatric health provider wants something better for their children and for yours as well, and thankfully, we aren’t motivated by financial gain. That’s why pediatricians are among the lowest paid doctors. We take care of children because we love them, not because we are getting rich. So we advocate for you to vaccinate your child.
First of all, let me be clear, neither this blog post, nor the other blog posts I write about vaccines were paid for or sponsored by this so-called “big pharma” conspiracy. Occasionally, pharmaceutical reps swing by the office I practice at and sometimes they bring a few cookies. If I’m really lucky, they bring Diet Coke and half a sandwich. If that’s not bribery, I don’t know what is!
Do pharmaceutical companies make money producing vaccinations? Yes. Of course they do. But you see, I’m a capitalist. I believe that pharmaceutical companies have a right to participate in a free market and should be paid for developing life-saving vaccinations. More importantly, please remember that bringing a vaccine to market through strenuous regulation and trials costs pharmaceutical companies millions upon millions of dollars and years of time.
Let’s put “big pharma’s” profit in perspective. Vaccines only represent about 3% of the entire pharmaceutical market, and only half of that represents pediatric vaccines. Vaccines are NOT reoccurring revenue. At most, they are used several times in a lifetime. However, drugs are often used every day.
In 2010, Pediarix (DTaP, Hep B, IPV), had annual gross sales of $1.2 billion. However, drugs for heart disease, obesity, cholesterol-lowering agents, pulmonary problems, neurological problems, hair-loss products, and potency drugs are often $7 billion PER DRUG or more. Back in 2005 before Lipitor’s (a cholesterol-lowering agent) patent expired, it produced more annual revenue than the entire worldwide vaccine industry. What has happened as a result? The number of pharmaceutical companies making vaccines has decreased from twenty-six in 1967 to five in 2004. If pharmaceutical companies were making money hand-over-fist on vaccination production, this would have never happened. It’s not a conspiracy. Check my statistics here. So we advocate for you to vaccinate your child.
Out of all the accusations leveled at me and other healthcare providers, this is by far the most heartbreaking to all of us. Say what you will, but do not say that I give vaccinations and purposefully cause autism in children.
Approximately 1 out of 68 of my patients have autism. Every day, I dedicate my time and talent caring for these amazing children and coordinating their needs. I am the one who cries with and for their mothers. I go home at night and pray for them. I am one of many in my profession who is constantly looking for more solutions. I am eagerly following the research that is linking autism to developing in children as early as the second-trimester of pregnancy because I want answers. I am always striving for better and more effective diagnosis and treatment. I have spent more time and shed more tears with autistic children and their families than I can count, and so has your pediatric health provider. And yet, I can accept that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism. So we advocate for you to vaccinate your child.
Why does your pediatric health provider want you to vaccinate your child? Because we care about your child. We have dedicated our lives work to do everything we can to enable the next generation to live long, healthy lives, and we can see that vaccines work.
I haven’t been bought off, I’m not part of a big pharma conspiracy, and I’m not turning a blind eye to children with autism. I believe the CDC when they project that among the children born during 1994-2013, routine vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.
Even if they are half wrong, no child should have to die from preventable infectious diseases, certainly not hundreds of thousands of children. So please go vaccinate your child and thank your pediatric health provider for doing it.
Author: Dani Stringer, MSN, CPNP, PMHS