The February 1st issue of AFP contains copies of the new Child and Adolescent and Adult immunization schedules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Dr. Doug Campos-Outcalt, the AAFP's liasion to the ACIP, summarizes the new and revised recommendations in a Practice Guidelines commentary. The paradox of vaccines, he notes, is that the better they work, the harder it is to persuade patients to accept them:
Many of today's physicians have never seen a patient with measles, rubella, polio, or other diseases that in the past were leading causes of morbidity and mortality. One could say that vaccines are a victim of their own success—the better they work, the less they are appreciated. With the absence of vaccine-preventable diseases, the benefit of vaccines goes unnoticed, while exaggerated and false claims of harm receive increasing attention and concern about safety becomes the most important issue to parents. Family physicians now need to spend more time reassuring patients and families of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
Speaking of "exaggerated and false claims," the British Medical Journal recently disclosed that Dr. Andrew Wakefield falsified the data for his subsequently retracted 1998 Lancet article that suggested a link between autism and the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Hopefully, this new revelation, as well as a summary of the evidence in the September 15, 2010 AFP Journal Club, will help family physicians "debunk the myth" that childhood vaccines are more likely to harm than help.