Friday, September 17, 2010

Vaccinations

There is one more guilt thing I need to get off my chest.  I haven’t returned calls from people who I love and who love me because I just don’t want to talk about the miscarriage in real life.  Yet I can write about all the bad shit I’m feeling and post it publicly.  It’s not like this blog has a huge readership, but I am still putting stuff out there that I can’t bear to talk about it real life.  How fucked up is that? 

OK.  Moving on to some actual mom stuff.  I’ve written about my dislike of judgey parenting here before (though to be honest I struggle with it myself).  But there is one controversial issue that I can’t see both sides of.  I do not understand how any parent makes the choice not to vaccinate their child.  When a parent makes that choice he or she is selfishly relying on other parents to be responsible enough to vaccinate their own children and to therefore keep the unvaccinated safe.  But if the safety net of being surrounded by vaccinated children and adults fails and an unvaccinated child becomes ill, that child is not the only one at risk.  Every infant too small to be immunized who comes in contact with the sick child would also be in danger of falling ill.

Right now there is a whooping cough outbreak across the country.  Infants under two months are unable to be vaccinated against this disease, and as the shots are given in a series they are not fully protected until six months.  I have a very casual acquaintance who chose not to vaccinate her child.  Her child and mine have occasion to be around each other and before I miscarried I was wracking my brain for excuses to not be around them after the new baby came.  I might seem like an alarmist, but I did not want to put my newborn at risk.  Part of me wanted to tell her I thought she was making an ill informed, dangerous, and selfish choice.  But when I floated that idea to Z he told me I was under no circumstances allowed to do that.  Usually we don’t tell each other what we can or cannot do, so when he uses that kind of language I know I’m moving into the very inappropriate zone. 

Yes, there are risks to vaccinations, although Autism is not one of them.  But we face risks just by waking up in the morning.  We don’t even have to leave the house for accidents and tragedies to occur.  To be protected from preventable disease we all have to take that small risk.  And it is paying off.  We are lucky enough not to have to worry about many of the diseases that killed children in the past.  

I don’t know if anyone who reads this blog has chosen to forgo vaccinations.  If so I hope I haven’t been offensive or mean, as usual I am being honest about what I think.  Naturally not everyone is going to agree with my opinions.  If you are an expectant parent or are thinking about kids in the future I urge you to thoroughly research this issue before you make up your mind.  Vaccines protect the most vulnerable members of society only when as many people as possible take advantage of them.   

Sorry to be so link happy, but I'm trying to demonstrate I'm not pulling this stuff out of my ass.  A friend put this up on his facebook page today.  I've been meaning to write about immunization for a while, but the link was the kick in my pants to make it happen.  


More tiny T.  Thought the helpless newborn thing would tug at the old heartstrings and help make my vaccination point.  On a separate  note, the photo credit here is Ellie Leonardsmith my talented sister in law.  All of the really good photos I've put up were taken by her.  She rocks.  

7 comments:

  1. Its also worth noting that the Autism-Vaccination myth originated with Andrew Wakefield in 1998. He and 12 colleagues published a paper claiming a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, gastrointestinal disease and autism.

    The problems with his work were numerous: He was getting money from lawyers planning on suing vaccine makers. He owned a patent on an alternative to the MMR vaccine. His paper claimed that cognitive problems developed a few days after the MMR vaccine but hospital records revealed this wasn't so; and in several cases parents reported problems before the vaccine

    On a side note, he subjected the children in his care to invasive and ethical-dubious tests.

    I'll stop there and provide one link of interest:
    http://arevaccinesharmful.com/

    Thank you Karen for broaching this subject.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I see both sides. I think in the end its important to make an informed decision, many of them.

    http://vran.org/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Elizabeth, I took a look at that site, specifically the autism page and it concerns me that it ignores the fact that thimerosal has conclusively been shown not to cause autism. I know parents who have autistic children are looking for answers, but they are barking up the wrong tree with vaccines.


    I also couldn't figure how VRAN is qualified to educate on the immunization issue.

    The reason I linked to the CDC website is because I trust the science behind it.

    In this case the safety of the whole makes more sense to me than the safety of the individual and I just don't see both sides on this issue. So I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you.

    The only hesitation I've had on T's vaccination days comes from hating the temporary pain he is in. But I truly believe I am protecting him.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There are two sides to this issue:

    I don't know that I can agree with Elizabeth that two sides EXIST on this issue.

    The view I share with Karen is bast on science. The best available empirical evidence. A firm understanding of math.

    The view that opposes vaccinations is absent of evidence or rationality (anecdotal evidence is not actually evidence).

    Those who make medical decisions for their kids based on something other than science are engaging in child abuse.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm not saying I oppose them, I believe without them we would be in some serious trouble.

    Unfortunately though there IS scientific evidence that there are health risks. I'm not on the autismn bandwagon, but the other risks are what I have a problem with. There have been reactions in some children. As a whole, its doing more for good than harm, but it still irks me.

    My other issue is really the vaccines that are new on the market. The ones that haven't had a chance to develop into long term effects, the ones that are absent of as many studies as older vaccines. The ones that have recalls months after their introduction to the public. The ones that have been pushed into the homes of Americans through hardcore fear-based and shock-value driven media- of course the ones that are beign viewed on a large amount of televisions nightly (Yes, we as Americans are lucky enough to have the final decisions on whether or not to recieve them but when things are being constantly thrown at you in every direction, sometime it tends to sink in even when it doesn't make sense). The ones that have been banned by entire countries because of the allegged side affects- those are the ones that make me nervous.

    I have been on the negative impact side of western based medical care and I have also seen the postive outcomes of such care. That being said, I just don't agree with following it blindly either way. Mistakes do happen of course, and we are only human, doctors and non doctors alike. I personally tend to take a natural-course-of-life policy with most of these things, regardless of how devastating it can be.

    I'm sorry! Didn't mean to offend anyone!

    ReplyDelete
  6. It was interesting to me when we moved to England to discover that NO immunizations are mandatory here. None. It was so counter to being in the US when you have to get immunizations before you can go to school, or go through the trouble to get the necessary waivers. They do have occasional debates on the issue and I listened to a little bit of one. Essentially, although a socialist state, the English are really opposed to the government dictating anything. So, in general, they oppose mandatory immunizations. Although the majority of them seem to be immunized and immunize there kids. However, I know two people well who have suffered from polio, one is just a teenager. I just don't see that in the States. I immunize my kids, and will continue to do so, but there are warnings and waivers you have to sign for a reason. And if my kids did have a negative reaction to those shots, I would probably think twice about getting more.

    I also don't think it is tied to autism, but I can't say I have read all the relevant research.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Elizabeth-I don't think you offended anyone. I am happy for different opinions to be expressed as long as they are constructive. Every once in a while we all are going to strongly disagree and that is cool. As long as we are nice about it, and I think you totally were.
    M-You bring up a good point when you are talking about your own kids. It is all hypothetical to me now because T has tolerated his. But it would shake me up if he had a bad reaction. I'd like to think I would continue with them, because I do believe as much compliance as possible is needed to ward off these illnesses. I would also try to think about the repercussions if T were to develop one of the illnesses. Maybe the negative reaction to a vaccine would still not be as bad as a disease that could easily kill. And thanks for adding your thoughts to the discussion. You always make me think.

    ReplyDelete