California has been struck with the worst pertussis outbreak in decades, killing nine infants and infecting 4,200 others so far this year. Many, including vaccine expert Paul Offit, have blamed the anti-vaccine movement for infectious outbreaks in the past three years. Offit denounced the anti-vaccine movement in a lecture at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco Oct. 4.
"Parents are bombarded with false stories about the dangers of vaccines, and the result is that some are backing away from vaccinating their children," said Offit, chief of infectious diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "This is tragic because it leaves children vulnerable to deadly disease, and it lowers the immunity of the entire community."
Offit noted that many anti-vaccine parents choose their stance based on religious or moral beliefs, thus putting pediatricians in an "impossible situation." Either they comply with parents' decision to delay vaccines, and potentially harm other children, or they turn away the children altogether due to their refusal to be vaccinated. "There is no answer to this question right now," Offit said.
- check out Offit's release
- read the Pediatric Supersite's coverage