Friday, February 6, 2015

On the Vaccine Debate

Vaccination is the topic of the day. Whenever it comes up, I always really, really want to share my thoughts, but I also really, really don't want to get into an argument. I consider myself to be middle of the road. And you know what they say about people standing in the middle of the road: they get run over in both directions. That has been my experience in a nutshell.

When I had my first child, I felt it was my duty to make sure I was doing the absolute best I could for her. I couldn't just blindly make decisions. Her life and well being were too important. It was my responsibility to ask questions and get informed. And I had questions about vaccines. Questions like:

  • Because she was premature, should she be vaccinated according to her actual or adjusted age?
  • Would she be at greater risk for side effects due to her more fragile health?
  • Would it be better to delay the shots until she was a little older and stronger?
  • Should we spread them out a little more so she wasn't exposed to so many things at once?
  • What is actually in these things, anyway?
  • How serious are the diseases we're preventing? 
  • Does benefit outweigh risk?

When I asked these questions of the pro-vaccine camp, the response I got was this:

OH EM GEE! How dare you question the almighty vaccine! You're just a stupid, crazy hippie who's bought into a discredited study on autism! Your children will die a slow, painful death, and they'll infect half the world's population on the way out! Won't you feel terrible then, but you'll deserve it, you stupid, worthless piece of crap! Let's see what your magic herbs and oils do for you then! Your children should be taken away from such a terrible, neglectful parent!

I was very taken aback by this response. It was full of hate, fear-mongering, and bullying. But you know what wasn't there? Answers. Answers to my very legitimate questions. (And I hadn't even mentioned autism!) I started to wonder, if they couldn't offer facts to convince me, if they had to resort to these bullying tactics, could it be they were hiding something?

So I asked questions of the anti-vaccine camp. The response was this:

OH EM GEE! How can you even consider injecting that poison into your child? They'll totally get autism or ADD or a learning disability! And if they manage to avoid that, their digestive system will be destroyed! They'll have autoimmune diseases and hormone imbalances and everything you can imagine! Your child will suffer and it'll be all your fault! It's all a big conspiracy anyway, and I can't believe you're falling for it! It's government mandated child abuse!

Again, I was surprised at the bullying tactics and lack of actual answers. Now both sides looked insane. How was I supposed to know what was truly best for my child? Was I supposed to just blindly trust one side? Which one? It took a lot of wading through this garbage to find any kind of facts. I eventually came to a conclusion that seems right for my family. What is it? It's not really your business. It's right for us, and that's all that matters. 

I'm not going to tell you TO vaccinate. I'm not going to tell you NOT TO vaccinate. I WILL tell you to ignore emotional arguments. I WILL encourage you to get informed with real facts and not just blindly do what you're told, whether it's by your mainstream pediatrician or your alternative chiropractor. Beyond that I really don't care what you do. But we absolutely MUST get rid of the propaganda, fear mongering, emotional blackmail, and bullying tactics on both sides. If you can't offer facts, if you can only offer coercion, your position isn't actually very sound and you look like a fool. 

You know what bothers me most about this whole issue? The accusations of abuse and neglect for anyone who disagrees. Guess what? A parent who is trying to do the best for their child is not abusive or neglectful! At worst they're wrong, but they're lovingly wrong. So knock it off!