I just finished watching an episode of ABC's Private Practice titled "Contamination." Read summary HERE. Plot line goes something like this:
Mother has three children - one with autism. Mother believes MMR vaccine caused her son's autism, so she refuses to vaccinate her other sons.
Family leaves the country for experimental treatment where one of the unvaccinated children contracts the measles.
Pediatrician realizes he has a patient with measles. He's alarmed -- panic ensues. Calls to the local health department and, eventually, the CDC follow.
Child with measles and family are isolated. Doctors check vaccinations records of all who were exposed. Vaccinate those who weren't properly immunized -- except the unvaccinated brother of the boy with the measles and a pregnant woman who can't be vaccinated. Hope everything turns out okay for her unborn baby...
Everyone agrees -- all children should be immunized to avoid such unnecessary, dangerous situations.
Pediatrician tries to talk mother into vaccinating healthy, unvaccinated son. She refuses.
All doctors in practice agree it's negligent not to vaccinate children. After all, the CDC says vaccines don't cause autism. Doctors think a parent who subscribes to such conspiracy theories and, as a result, decides not to vaccinate children should be reported to social services.
Pediatrician again attempts to convince mother to vaccinate. Mother is still unmoved. Pediatrician won't drop mother because she refuses vaccine -- per the American of Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation.
CDC official arrives. Doctors expect, but don't welcome her involvement. CDC doctor checks procedures and protocols. Curt, but professional, exchanges between clinic doctor and CDC official. (In the end, clinic doctor realizes CDC doctor is just doing her job to protect people -- and kinda cute too. They dance the night away at a local club...)
Child with measles becomes gravely ill -- can't breathe. Mother still won't vaccinate other child. Son becomes so ill doctors have trouble intubating him and almost have to do trach.
Pediatrician becomes angry with pig-headed mother and vaccinates healthy, unvaccinated son -- despite mother's objections. ("No!" shouts mother.)
Son with measles takes a turn for the worse and tragically dies.
Pediatrician was right all along -- immunizations protect children and don't cause autism. Pediatrician is hero. Mother should have allowed him to save her son when they had the chance.
Moral: When parents don't listen to their doctors and refuse to vaccinate their children, everyone suffers -- especially the children.
I'm planning to ignore ABC's lame attempt to bolster ratings of a floundering show. Private Practice isn't doing well, so ABC moved it to a new day and aired an episode on a highly-charged issue that would be sure to spark a controversy -- generating loads of buzz and landing them any number of new viewers.
I'm doing what ABC probably didn't expect -- observing radio silence. So, I won't be shooting off an indignant e-mail to network execs suggesting their research department share with us the most recent year a real child died from the measles in this country -- not today.