Dr. Alanna Levine: Have you ever seen a child with measles? How about polio or diphtheria? If you are younger than 50, the answer is probably, "No." This is due in large part to the fact that most children today receive vaccines against these horrible and sometimes fatal diseases.
To help today's generation of young parents learn from the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics has launched the Protect Tomorrow Campaign. It consists of television and radio public-service announcements which bring to life memories of the devastating diseases that are now largely preventable as a result of vaccines. The Campaign encourages parents to protect their children's tomorrows by vaccinating their children today.
There has been a lot of misinformation circulating on the Internet and in the media, and it has been confusing to parents. In some cases, this dialogue has created concern about vaccine ingredients being somehow related to developmental problems. In others, the alleged culprit is the combination of vaccines or the timing of them. However, there is a substantial and growing body of scientific evidence that shows there is no link between vaccines and developmental problems -- including autism. But the misinformation still causes fear in many parents. On the ProtectTomorrow.org website, parents can find answers to many of their questions, plus links to reliable, accurate information about vaccines.
My father had polio at the age of 13. I have grown up hearing his harrowing story of being in a glass isolation cubicle and watching the 32-year-old man next to him die of the same disease. My father spent three weeks in a hospital bed, undergoing experimental treatments and fearing that he would suffer the same fate. This is something I would never want for my own children, so I vaccinate them according to the recommended schedule from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
I hope parents will check out ProtectTomorrow.org to see compelling TV public-service announcements that tell the story of why vaccines are so important -- and to find much more information about this important topic.