Communicating the Importance of Childhood Vaccinations
By BECKY GILLETTE
Pediatrician Brentley J. Silvey, MD, says disease resurgence complicated by anti-vaxxers
The recent measles outbreak in the U.S. linked primarily to unvaccinated children is a troubling reminder of how important vaccines are against preventable diseases.
"Currently, there have been nearly 1,200 cases of measles in 30 states," said Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics President, Brentley J. Silvey, MD. "This is the highest number since 1992 and the first outbreak since 2000 when measles were declared eliminated in the United States. About 90 percent of the current cases are in people who have not been vaccinated."
Parents can easily be influenced by the anti-vaxxer movement that links childhood vaccinations to sudden infant death syndrome, auto-immune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, asthma, ADHD and autism. Some prominent celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey have posted anti-vaccination messages on social media.
All 19 partners at Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics, which is part of the independent physician group Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas (MANA), are adamant about the importance of vaccines.
"For parents who are vaccine hesitant, I try to spend time understanding their concerns and supplying them with science-based information rather than information found on social media," Silvey said. "Specifically, for the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine, I stress to parents that it is among the most studied medical product we have."
One exciting development over the past several years is the routine use of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, also known as Gardisil. Silvey said although the HPV vaccine was introduced only in 2006, the rising vaccine coverage has already resulted in declining rates of cervical cancer in the U.S. This vaccine is recommended for males and females ages 9-12, although the vaccine is now licensed for use in those ages 9-45.
Silvey grew up in the small town of Mansfield located near Fort Smith. He decided on medicine as a career at a young age. In junior high he set his sights on a career that would help and serve others.
"Plus, I loved science," Silvey said. "Medicine was a field that met both of those criteria."
"I was on a medical mission trip to Honduras and was naturally drawn to the joy of children no matter what their circumstance," Silvey said. "After that trip, I tailored more of my rotations toward pediatrics, which solidified my love for it."
Silvey has continued his medical mission work.
"Once a year I lead a medical mission team to Haiti with my church, Cross Church," Silvey said. "This is an exhausting, but very rewarding, trip where we are providing basic medical care to one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Thousands of kids and adults who have no access to any medical care are seen in a few days span."
Over the past few years he has been involved with Tim Tebow's Night to Shine, which is a prom for individuals with special needs. Silvey also volunteers weekly through his church in leading Awana games for elementary kids. Awana is an international ministry that works with local volunteers in churches around the world "with Biblical evangelism and discipleship solutions so that today's children may become tomorrow's Christian leaders, in every aspect of society and culture."
Silvey, who did his residency at Arkansas Children's Hospital, has been in private practice for 13 years at Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics in Fayetteville. He is Board Certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Silvey was instrumental in the opening and design of the Fayetteville Wellness Clinic to provide a vibrant, safe environment for infant care and preventive medicine for children and their families in 2009. In 2017, he helped coordinate the opening of the Pinnacle Hills Clinic with separated well and acute care. That has proven to be a very popular option with parents who don't want their children potentially exposed to a virus while having a routine checkup.
Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics is the largest private pediatric group in Arkansas with 19 partners, two locations, and a walk-in clinic open six days a week, including evenings.
"As Northwest Arkansas continues to grow due to the multiple corporate headquarters, the area has grown in diversity of cultures," Silvey said. "It is fun and exciting to take care of this diversity and learn the differences in cultures that contribute to the medical care. We also love the diversity in complexity of our patients ranging from simple runny noses to working closely with the pediatric specialist for the most medically complex kids."
Silvey and his wife, Leslie Silvey, have two daughters: Olivia Grace is in the 8th grade and Annalyse is in the 4th grade. The family's favorite leisure time activity is spending time out on Beaver Lake.
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