HURON – Diseases wiped out years ago by childhood immunizations could return if pockets of resistance to vaccinations keep escalating, a family nurse practitioner at Huron Regional Medical Center’s Physicians Clinic said.
“We could see them again if this continues to be a problem and public perception changes that vaccines are not good and vaccines are dangerous,” Kristin Pratt said.
South Dakota so far is not among them, but 26 states are now dealing with measles in ever-growing numbers. It’s sad that it’s a public health concern because it can be prevented through vaccinations, she said at the District 22 Democratic Forum.
Vaccines are one of the most successful and cost-effective investments, she said.
For children born in 1994, vaccines they were given through 2018 will prevent 419 million illnesses, 26.8 million hospitalizations and 936,000 early deaths over the course of their lifetime, she said, quoting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It represents a net savings of $406 billion in direct costs and $1.9 trillion in total society costs, Pratt said.
She said she hadn’t realized the economic impact of vaccines. “I was honestly surprised by that,” she said.
Vaccines have wiped out diseases in the United States that are still prevalent on other countries, she said.
“Everything has been tested and proven to be safe and effective,” Pratt said.
But she said social media is spreading a lot of misinformation, and she urges people to question the sources and challenge what they read.
Vaccines don’t cause long-term health problems because they have been observed and studied for years, she said. Health care providers wouldn’t recommend them if they didn’t think they were safe.
Is there a link between vaccines and autism?
“No, no, no, no. It does not cause autism,” Pratt said. “They thought this because of a compound that was in the vaccine, but nothing has been linked to autism.”
Children need a larger number of vaccines today than their parents and grandparents because medical advancements continue to eliminate diseases.
“Why do we need more? Because we don’t have polio,” Pratt said. “We don’t have all these diseases that we had. Would you rather have all these vaccines or do you want polio to come back?”
Are there ingredients in vaccines that could be toxic?
Yes, but not at the levels that are in the vaccines, she said.
“The components and compounds in there would have to be at astronomical high levels to ever be toxic,” she said.
Pratt said most people she talks with have been vaccinated. Anti-vaccine movements are stronger in more highly populated areas of the country.
“I definitely think it’s out there,” she said of the opposition.
“I really hope that as a whole we can educate them and bring awareness to that,” she said.
Pratt said even scare tactics might have to be used so they understand the risk to them and their community.
“I just hope that other people are talking about it and doing something about it,” she said. “I do think it’s a big public health concern.”