Doctors Spread Message on Benefits of Vaccines at Falmouth School Forum

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Dr. Alex Heard of Cape Cod Pediatrics, talks about vaccines, as Dr. Laurel Miller and Dr. Michael Fishbein listen at a forum at Falmouth High School last week.

Dr. Alex Heard of Cape Cod Pediatrics, talks about vaccines, as Dr. Laurel Miller and Dr. Michael Fishbein listen at a forum at Falmouth High School last week.

FALMOUTH – About four percent of parents on Cape Cod do not immunize their children against diseases, according to Dr. Alex Heard of Cape Cod Pediatrics.

That percentage is significantly higher than the state average of one percent.

To try to get information out to parents about the benefits of immunizations, the Falmouth School Department collaborated with Cape Cod Healthcare last week to present a forum in the Falmouth High School auditorium.

Heard, along with Dr. Michael Fishbein of Cape Cod Healthcare, Dr. Laurel Miller, an infectious disease specialist with Cape Cod Healthcare, and Eileen Duffey-Lind, a registered nurse at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, explained what vaccines are and why they are critical for children to an audience of just a few mothers.

Miller talked about how vaccines work and why they are important not just to keep individuals safe from disease but also to protect communities from disease outbreaks.

Successes over the years include the elimination of small pox as a pathogen and the elimination of polio in most of the world, she said.

Miller said vaccinations prevent disease, have been proven to be effective and are required for students entering kindergarten, high school and college. Exemptions are allowed, she said, for medical, religious and philosophical reasons. Miller pointed out that in the states of California, Mississippi and West Virginia, only medical exemptions are allowed.

Miller listed reasons parents refuse to vaccinate their children, including doubts of the efficacy of vaccines; denial that their children are at risk of getting diseases; denial that diseases are dangerous; and distrust of government and medicine.

But, she said, vaccines have proven to be safe and there are severe consequences to vaccine refusal, including a higher risk of disease and possibility of community outbreaks.

Heard said the low turnout at last week’s forum was a good sign.

“It says that people are much more comfortable with where we are. The folks who are against the vaccine initiatives are just less vocal these days,” he said.

But Heard said he believes the Cape’s relatively high rate of parents who do not immunize their children has to do with politics.

“It’s a little bit of an enclave-type area where people are allowed to think what they want to think. If you look politically, we voted for Republican senators which none of the rest of the state did,” he said.

Heard said if the forum had been held four years ago, he believes the auditorium would have been full.

“Four years ago we were starting to do the HPV vaccine and again every time you start to do a new vaccine, there’s an uprise in discontent, anxiety in the community. That was a very active point. Since then, more research has come out about the safety of vaccines,” he said.

The panelists encouraged parents to talk to their pediatricians to get more information if they have concerns about vaccines for children.



  1. Vaccination choice is a human right.

    We’re The Refusers and that’s the title of our song. Free streaming and download.

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