Strong Beliefs About Vaccines Work Both Ways

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There's no evidence that vaccines are more efficacious on a different schedule, and there's certainly no data on whether this could reduce rates of adverse events, researchers say.

Indeed, it lengthens the time a child could be vulnerable to a disease, or could be a carrier -- a problem for other young patients in a physician's waiting room.

"Some children who are in the waiting room may have not started their vaccination schedule because they are too young or still completing the schedule and so could be exposed to a child who may get the disease due to lack of vaccination," said Siva Subramanian, MD, hospital ethicist and pediatrician at Georgetown University Hospital.

Many doctors blame the ado largely on British researcher Andrew Wakefield, whose studies linking the MMR vaccine with autism were recently discredited.

Lieber says Colorado is particularly troubled as its vaccination rates are among the lowest in the nation, a fact likely attributable to a culture that promotes alternative medicine.

Vaccinations: Great Medical Advance

On the other hand, few Americans see the larger story when it comes to vaccinations -- which researchers agree are one of the greatest medical advances of our time.

"Vaccination has provided relief of diseases such as polio, smallpox, and the various viral -- chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis -- and bacteriologic -- pneumonia, flu, meningitis -- diseases that once plague small children and has contributed in immeasurable ways to the improvement of humanity," Cronan said.

Lieber says he enacted his policy about 11 years ago, "after an unvaccinated family walked into my waiting room with chicken pox." Last week's incident in which a woman with measels flew through Denver put more fuel on the fire for him.

Yet he emphasizes that he's not refusing to see patients.

"I'm begging to treat the patients," he says, "but the parents are refusing to let me."

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