As pediatricians, our job is not only to protect the well-being of children but to promote and advance the health of all families. Each day we work to ensure the children of Missouri are provided every opportunity possible to succeed — and this starts with protecting families from disease and illness with vaccines during routine well child visits.
It’s during these routine well child visits when pediatricians have the best opportunity to talk with families about their child’s development and work to build a plan for ensuring children grow into healthy and productive adolescents and adults. We use this time to discuss things like nutrition, safe sleep, cognitive development, and protecting the child from harm. We work hand-in-hand with the families we serve to reach a level of comfort with the care being administered, especially as it relates to vaccines.
Simply put: Vaccines are the safest, most effective tool families have to protect their child from harm. Terrible diseases like pertussis and measles once cost the lives of millions each year, but today can be prevented by vaccination. Further, the use of childhood vaccinations helps protect the entire family, especially those most vulnerable like infants, cancer patients, immunosuppressed, elderly, and the unborn.
Additionally, the use of vaccinations helps save taxpayer funds by preventing community outbreaks of disease requiring a government response and reduces expenditures for long-term care of vaccine-preventable illness.
Pediatricians and other health care providers across the state work tirelessly to protect you, your family, and our communities from harm. This is why we firmly believe in the use of vaccines and stand against attempts to spread misinformation or reduce existing requirements for vaccine use in schools, daycares, and healthcare facilities. We also believe in communication and a compassionate approach to helping families understand how vaccines work — especially in the precious and earliest years of a child’s life.
As professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children and families, we implore you to think of the health of the entire community by protecting the safest, most effective tool we have to save lives: vaccines.
Dr. Thuylinh Pham, MD FAAP, is the legislative committee chair for the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.