Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A shot in the dark

Vaccines. A hot button topic for sure. Bring up vaccinations and you are bound to hear things like "What about autism?" And "Do you think they are safe?" or "You aren't one of those anti vaccine nut jobs are you?"   This blog is not about me trying to convince you one way or the other on your vaccination decision, as I believe it is up to each parent to research the issue and choose what is right for them.

But in this current climate, that is all but impossible. Most discussions I read or see generally start out with honest questions, and then quickly disintegrate to misinformation and name-calling — on both sides. Lots of rumors fly around out there. Non-vaccinating parents are told they’re psycho, and selfish and so much worse. To the point that many remain anonymous on message boards, on social media like Facebook, and don't advertise their decision to do what they feel is best for their children  I believe by reacting this way we are not helping ANYONE- and just making a touchy subject a battleground.

So many myths and so much misinformation surround this subject-it really is difficult to separate emotional opinions from facts.  Here are some things I have heard that I believe are based not in fact, but emotions and people's willingness to believe whatever their doctors tell them.

1) The only reason parents don't vaccinate is because they have heard of the Dr. Wakefield study/Seen or heard Jenny McCarthy speak on the subject.  

While this may be the first place parents hear about the issue, it’s definitely not the final word. Parents who choose not to vaccinate don’t make this decision lightly. Hours upon hours of  researching every aspect and angle they can find are involved. Even parents who initially make the decision often feel very uncertain about it, and end up seeking out even more research to verify their decisions. For many, the media and “celebrities” play little to no role in their ultimate decision.

2) Parents believe vaccines cause autism and that is their primary reason for not vaccinating

 This is probably the biggest question out there. Do vaccines cause autism? There are NO DEFINITIVE ANSWERS TO THAT YET!! Yes, there are some parents who did stop vaccinating for that reason, but that was many years ago, when the Wakefield study first came out. But now, parents are well aware of the controversy and do a lot more research when making such a huge choice. And while Autism is (or should still be a concern) there are so many other worries as well.

3) Unvaccinated kids are responsible for disease epidemics.

This is the one that irritates me. Did you know that  most of the recent disease epidemics have broken out in highly vaccinated communities? They occur in cycles, and usually because a disease has mutated. These so called "outbreaks" are scare tactics, nothing more.   Since the disease has mutated, there is no vaccine to “protect” against it, so it doesn’t matter if you were vaccinated or not — you are at risk. Unvaccinated children are not out "spreading diseases around"  - there is much more to it.

4) You are a "bad" parent if you choose to spread vaccines out or not vaccinate at all.
If someone actually said this to my face- I might end up going to jail for assault.   I may be a lot of things but a bad parent isn't one of them. I do not abuse my children, they are well fed, happy, healthy and generally well adjusted humans- and if I choose NOT to put poison in their bodies - I would say that is the very antithesis to BAD parenting.

I have said it many, many times before- and I will say it many more times I am sure- I do not say DON'T VACCINATE. I say EDUCATE BEFORE YOU VACCINATE!   Do your research, and make an educated decision. Then either way you go, you will know it was the right decision for your family.Don't let doctors, the media or anyone BULLY you into making whatever decision YOU feel is best for your child. THAT IS YOUR RIGHT!  It is just as much your right to choose not to vaccinate- or delay vaccinations as to not feed your kids junk food, or to make sure they wear a helmet when on a bike-these are the PARENTS decisions, NOT the government, NOT the schools- and NOBODY should feel like they have to hide because of their decision to keep their child healthy.