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Letter: Benefits outweigh potential harms with vaccination

In Sandy Gottstein’s May 26 Compass, she asserts that those who support vaccines are “unaware of certain facts.” As a pediatrician and public health professional, I would like to remind Alaska families of important facts about vaccines. 

Vaccines are the safest and most effective tools we have for preventing infectious diseases. Before vaccines, measles sickened millions and killed thousands of American children each decade until the mid-1960s. Bacterial meningitis outbreaks devastated rural Alaska through the 1980s, until the Hib vaccine so dramatically reduced disease incidence that most pediatricians will never see a case.

Vaccines are responsible for virtually eliminating devastating illnesses like diphtheria, tetanus and polio — diseases that still cause harm in countries without robust vaccination programs. 

Serious adverse reactions to vaccines are extremely rare. The risks of disease far outweigh the potential harms from a vaccine.

Alaska parents understand that by choosing to vaccinate, we enable our children to grow up strong and achieve their potential. That is real health freedom.

— Brian Yablon, MD

Alaska Division of Public Health