Missouri pediatrician slams 'selfish' anti-vaxers after measles Facebook post sparks debate

A Missouri pediatrician is not planning to apologize for his facility's Facebook post encouraging Kansas City-area residents to be "responsible" and get vacinated amid a measles "outbreak" in the area. While the doctor's office encourages healthy discussions, it said it's important to explain the "significance of vaccinations."

The vaccine — after two doses — makes 97 percent of people develop immunity to measles, a highly contagious virus that's airborne, Priority Care Pediatrics explained.

That's why the office requires patients to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) immunization guidelines, which the organization says "has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era."

"While immunizations are still (inappropriately, unjustly, and selfishly) a hot-button for some, our practice ... and numerous other organizations and groups around the globe have reached the truthful conclusion that immunizations are overwhelmingly safe and effective," the doctor's office stated in a comment online. "Vaccines save lives. Period. End of discussion."

Some, however, begged to differ.

"Popping up everywhere...that's right, be smarter than your doctors and don't vaccinate," one Facebook user wrote, according to KHSB-TV. "Irresponsible parenting is alive and well."

"Vaccines save lives. Period. End of discussion."

— Priority Care Pediatrics

"1 in 68 children have autism. 1 in 42 boys have autism. You'd think you'd actually be worried about that instead of a few cases of the measles," another reportedly added.

Priority Care Pediatrics has since deleted all negative posts and others that spread "unscientific, unresearched" information, adding it would not give critics a forum to bully.

Dr. Raymond Cattaneo, senior partner at Priority Care Pediatrics, told KHSB-TV he never expected the post to spark a big debate.

"[It] turned into something much bigger than that when some anti-vaccine people got a hold of that and bombarded our post. Reading comment after comment after comment you just kind of get worn down because you know you're fighting the good fight," Cattaneo said. "You're on the right side of science but you worry that what they're saying, people will actually believe."

But if it got people thinking about vaccinations, Cattaneo said it served its purpose.

"Critical thinking and debates are welcome and good for each of us. They might shape a thought process, or change a mind, or solidify an already reached decision," the office continued. "This is a learning opportunity for those still on the fence."

Dozens of people praised the Kansas City practice for standing its ground and educating the public on immunization.

"Thank you for helping prevent the spread of diseases we eradicated years ago! Vaccinate your kids!" one Facebook user replied.

"Thank you, Priority Care Pediatrics for mandating vaccines for all of your patients!" another commented.

At least four cases of the measles have been confirmed in the city so far, the Kansas City Health Department has reported. There have been at least 18 reports of the measles in Johnson, Miami and Linn counties since March, according to Fox4KC.

Signs of the measles include a sore throat, runny nose, and fever, among other cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash that spreads across the body, the CDC says. Anyone who believes they may have the measles should contact their health care provider immediately.