Open Letter from a Doctor to Anti-Vaccine Parents

Updated 1/1/2019

Recently, we published an open letter from the mother of an immuno-compromised child to anti-vaccination believers. Now another open letter has been written by a doctor that first surfaced on Facebook. It was originally posted on the page for Disgruntled Accident and Emergency Senior House Officer and has been shared thousands of times since then. Minor editing for an American audience was performed. Comments are welcome.

I saw your daughter in the resuscitation room today. You knew she was sick.

I asked you how long she’d had seizures for. You said today was her first.

I asked you if she’d had a fever, rashes, pain. You described to me the symptoms of measles.

I intubated your daughter in the resuscitation room today. You said you wanted to stay, you said you wanted me to talk through what I was doing.

I showed you how we intubate a child today, how we give the drugs, insert a tube in her throat, thread a large tube into her neck and another into her artery, and another into her bladder. You said that you never realized measles could do this.

I transferred your daughter to the Pediatric ICU today. You told me how she loved to paint and to make perfume from flowers, at the cost of your perfume which she used to make it smell better. You told me that she was the first in her class to read, that she could write her full name and address and knew all of the words to Frozen.

I watched your daughter seize again today. I explained that this wasn’t a good sign. You told me the pediatricians had said the same. You told me that she had been having drugs through her central line, and fluids and her urine output was good.

I watched your daughter pick up a spoon today. It’s been a month since I saw you last. You told me that she has progressed so much in the past three weeks. You told me she now recognized your faces when you come into the room and can make a sound that you recognize means she wants her teddy.

I saw you in the corridor today. Another month has passed. You told me that your daughter can now crawl and is just about able to say mummy and daddy.

I saw you in the coffee shop today, another month or so has passed. Your daughter had another seizure. You asked me whether you had caused this by not vaccinating her. I told you that I didn’t know.

I lied to you in the coffee shop today. You asked me a question and all of the current evidence says yes, your daughter has the complications of encephalitis because you didn’t vaccinate her.

I couldn’t do that to you. You did what you thought was best based on the information that you had at the time. You are not scientists, you are not doctors. You are parents and you were understandably worried.

I asked if there was anything I could do for you. You asked if I could please tell people to vaccinate their kids.

I said I would try.

Text credit: Disgruntled Accident and Emergency Senior House Officer

Photo credit: Licensed under Public Domain, created by Paul Brennan