Anti-vax ‘Dr. Bob’: Opting out of vaccines bad for public health, but ‘safe enough’ for your kid
A Southern California doctor, who has written a best-selling book on childhood vaccinations, is advising the mothers of small children that not vaccinating their children isn’t good for the public health but “for your individual child, I think it is a safe enough choice.”
Dr. Bob Sears, known nationally as “Dr. Bob,” is profiled in a recent LA Times article explaining his theories on childhood vaccinations, saying that parents who are resisting recommendations to immunize their children against childhood diseases can find comfort in lower disease rates due to parents who do vaccinate their kids.
At a conference this year in Rancho Mirage, Sears told an audience of pregnant women, new mothers, and healthcare workers that, although vaccines work — half of his patients opt out of vaccinations — society has made an unvaccinated child safer.
“I do think the disease danger is low enough where I think you can safely raise an unvaccinated child in today’s society,” he said. “It may not be good for the public health. But … for your individual child, I think it is a safe enough choice.”
Sears, whose book “The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child” has sold over 250,000 copies, is not entirely anti-vaccination, instead offering some worried parents alternative vaccination scheduling for their children.
The doctor recommends delaying the start of the varicella vaccination for chickenpox from age 1 until 2, the polio vaccination from 2 months to 9 months, and the hepatitis A vaccination from 1 until 7. He also advises parents concerned about autism to delay the measles vaccination until their children are 4 or 5.
Dr. Carrie Byington, chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee on infectious diseases, disagrees with Sears, saying his recommendations are “not based in science.”
“The approved schedule in the United States is the schedule that has been shown to be safe and effective,” Byington said. “The Institute of Medicine, as well as many, many studies, have confirmed this again and again.”
The problem with children who have not been vaccinated comes when an unvaccinated child may be exposed to a childhood disease outside of their school or social circle, thereby exposing other children who have not been immunized or are too young for their vaccinations.
In 2008, a patient of Dr. Sears began a mini-epidemic of measles in San Diego after returning from a trip abroad.
One of the attendees at Sears’ talk in Rancho Mirage, Natacha Bangura of Pacoima, said she had decided to delay some vaccinations for her children after hearing the doctor speak, admitting it was based more on feelings more than overwhelming medical consensus.
“It’s not really research-based,” she said. “It just feels better and safer to me.”
[Image Dr Bob Sears Facebook]