Letters: Drop in vaccination levels concerning for local physician

A practice of 27 years is long enough to witness the improvements vaccinations have wrought

To the Expositor:

At last week’s Northeastern Manitoulin Family Health Team meeting we reviewed the vaccination rates for our community and were disappointed to learn that the rates have dropped over the last year. Disappointing because vaccines are so important in maintaining individual and community health. 

When I was doing my paediatric rotation at Calgary Sick Kids in 1989, the Haemophilus influenza epiglottis (HiB) vaccine was introduced. In a matter of months, babies stopping dying of epiglottis caused by Haemophilus influenza (that the HiB vaccine protects against). 

As a medical student, I was incredibly anxious that I would be called down to the emergency to manage a baby with a swollen epiglottis, to make the decision on whether to intubate a baby struggling to breathe. The virtual elimination of Haemophilus influenza epiglottis was a relief for me, but so much more for the parents who never had to worry about their child. 

In a world of incremental benefit from expensive medications and procedures, vaccines stand head and shoulders above all things we do in medicine to improve the health our patients. 

I have been in practice now for 27 years, which is not long in the history of medicine, but long enough to witness the change in that vaccines have done improve the health of our patients. Any slip in the vaccine rate feels like a slip back to the bad old days.

Dr. Stephen Cooper

Little Current