Last night, I happened to catch this tweet from @OMyFamily:
And I shouted an emphatic AMEN.
In light of yesterday's release of another article picking apart the Wakefield study on vaccines and autism, a brand new re-hashing of the vaccine-autism debate caught fire.
But Allison's tweet sums up (so neatly! 140 characters or less!) what many non- and alternative- vaccinating parents know and believe: alternative vaccine choices no longer revolve singularly around autism. Concerns about vaccines and the CDC/AAP schedule range from the timing of the schedule to the various ingredients in vaccines to the questionable necessity of some of the vaccines on the schedule.
After I linked to that infuriating and insulting article from USA Today in my Delicious links, a reader emailed me to ask if I could share any resources that show definitively that childhood vaccines cause harm.
Two things came to mind:
1) Yes. VAERS. There would be no need for our government to create a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System if vaccinations didn't cause harm to some children on some level.
2) Yes. My family's history. As long-time readers know, the MMR vaccine triggered epilepsy in my youngest sister. This is not supposition on the part of my family. My parents were part of a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer of that batch of MMR in the 90s and a federal court ruled in their favor. My youngest sister and other children across the country were granted significant amounts of money in the form of trusts to provide for her medical/physical/emotional/educational needs for the rest of her life.
(My youngest sister also has Asperger's Syndrome and has written briefly about that here. She also has a child who had a mild seizure after receiving the MMR which scared the pants off of everyone in our family.)
The USA Today article brimmed with the stern reminder that we "lay people" are not to be trusted with making these kinds of decisions for our children. Parents are reminded that we must not delay or skip vaccinations because of our fear of autism. We must trust our doctors and our government with the lives and well-being of our children for their own health and for the well-being of others.
Non- and alternative- vaxing parents are made out to be silly victims of spooky shadows of doubt, wringing hands in fear of what if? and acting irresponsibly in the face of sound science.
It's a funny thing. My first step away from the CDC/AAP schedule was one of fear. Not of autism, specifically, just that healthy kind of fear all parents should have when we really stop to consider what we are putting into the bodies of human beings who rely on us for health. (McNuggets included in that statement.*)
But then a remarkable thing happened - fear led to discovery which led to enlightenment. The more I read, the more I dug around, the more I discovered oh wow. So wait a minute. It's not actually all that remarkable that I've never had a flu shot and never had the flu? And wait, what? I can return to the wonder of what God has provided for us through creation, and through foods or supplements I can promote holistic wellness rather than relying solely on resistance to disease? Hmmmmm.
The majority of non- and alternative- vaxing parents I know might have begun a journey in fear, but have long since moved past fear and into dedication to wellness. And that is what Allison said so simply in a tweet that for some reason I feel the need to expand upon.
To tell you the truth, I've grown weary of talking about vaccination choices. It's an endless circle of discussion. In the same way that I cannot talk about abortion to someone who has a different view than I do about when life begins, I also cannot talk about vaccinations with someone who has a different view than I do about which takes precedence: the health of the individual or the health of the public at large.
But I am taking the chance and bringing up the conversation again simply because I know that when vaccines are in the news, those of us who don't follow the vaccine schedule will be asked/confronted about our choices again. Maybe it's a good idea if we have a script ready.
Maybe you just want to say, "Fear of autism isn't the only reason for our choice. We've done the research and we are comfortable with our decision."
Or maybe you want to respond, "What I would really like to know is why the CDC refuses - refuses - to do a sound and thorough study following the health and wellness of children who are vaccinated compared to un-vaccinated children. If the CDC doesn't know where to find large groups of un-vaccinated children, I would like to introduce them to The Pacific Northwest."
I'm normally not a conspiracy theorist. I promise. But when it comes to vaccines . . . well. The truth is out there. And I'm perplexed as to why the CDC won't touch it. Except: money. And fear.
I'll leave comments open for now, but I also have to say I've been enjoying a peaceful, start-o-the-year zen moment, and I don't really feel like debating. Let's just keep it respectful, capiche?
January 8 edit: I'm going to go ahead and close comments. I think there has been great discussion with good representation from all of the various viewpoints on the topic. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for doing so respectfully. If you have a specific question for me, you can always reach me at megan at sortacrunchy dot net
* The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child
* Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives
At Mothering: Vaccines: Still an Issue for Our Time (reprint)
* full disclosure: both of my children have eaten McNuggets within the past week.
** other info worth noting: my oldest child is fully vaccinated, all on schedule. My youngest child received a handful of vaccines on an alternative schedule, but hasn't had one since she was six months old. She's three now. So there's that.