Medicine, Vaccines and Trust
The practice of medicine is based on trust.
Children trust parents. Parents trust pediatricians. Pediatricians trust the medical system.
To do my job as a pediatrician, I must trust my specialist colleagues. I must trust the nurses caring for my patients in the hospital. And I must trust expert scientific organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, to review the most current research, form a consensus and create policies. It is my job to understand these policies and translate them into practice for my patients.
This system works. Children are safer today than ever before. They are safer from infections, from trauma, and from malnutrition. As new information becomes available, guidelines change, and practitioners adapt their practice to match emerging evidence.
When trust is breached, however, the system fails.
If I do not trust the CDC, I will form my own guidelines, outside the standard of care, that are based on the limited information that I can obtain and evaluate. Doctors who form their own, independent guidelines put their patients, and themselves, at risk.
Similarly, if a family does not trust their pediatrician, they will also create their own guidelines. They will form their own plan of care that relies on limited, often biased, information. When they do this they put their child, and their community, at risk.
When parents decline vaccinations, it is because of a lack of trust. In their doctor and the medical establishment. When this happens, the system fails. And children suffer.
Dr. Samantha Ahdoot