Rich Tucker
Sometimes the best letters come from doctors.

“Medical science often does not make ‘sense’ to people that don’t know the full picture,” writes a family physician from Kansas. He was responding to a recent column in which I opined that it doesn’t make sense to give children four or five vaccinations all at once. In fact, he wrote, “When the immune system is required to build antibodies to multiple diseases at once, a greater amount and duration of immunity is achieved.”

For the sake of argument, let’s stretch this to its logical conclusion. If five vaccines at a time are good, why not all 20 at once? Why should doctors make parents come back again and again and again? Think of the immunity we’d build then.

This is actually similar to the debate over the minimum wage. It’s self evident that raising the minimum wage will make employers less likely to hire people, but liberals refuse to accept that. They insist it can be raised with no effect. Well, then, let’s make the minimum wage $10,000 an hour. We can all work one day and take the rest of the year off.

Oh, wait. That’s absurd. Of course raising the minimum wage that much will increase unemployment. Well, then the debate isn’t over whether or not raising the minimum wage causes unemployment, it’s over how much it could possibly be raised before we cause harm.

The same theory holds for vaccinations. How many shots at a time are too many? Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccination proponent at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, wrote in 2002, “Our analysis shows that infants have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10,000 vaccines at once.”

10,000 shots at once? He may be correct, and he does indeed have a study suggesting he is. But let’s remember that, every once in a while, medical science is wrong.

For instance, doctors have long recommend people eat a low-fat diet because doing so would supposedly reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Well, a major study released recently by the National Institutes of Health shows that low-fat diets don’t, in fact, lower a person’s risk of heart disease.

This doesn’t mean doctors were lying when they said a low-fat diet was good. It simply means that medical science can be wrong. If Offit’s report turns out to be wrong (common sense suggests 10,000 shots at a time would be dangerous) parents would learn (too late) they’d been putting their children in danger for no reason.

Parents want to trust their doctors, but we also need doctors to become more involved in the vaccination process -- a process that, unfortunately, is dominated by the government.


Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for Townhall.com.