Who would guess that a few milliliters of serum could cause such a debate. If it wasn’t for Facebook I might not have known how strongly people feel and what a large division there is between the Vax’ers and the Non-Vaxers.
In recent years there has been a growing number of parents who choose not to vaccinate their children against diseases such as rubella, measles, mumps, HPV, polio, and the seasonal flu. They cite studies that indicate a link between vaccines and certain medical disorders, most famously Autism Spectrum Disorder. The medical community meanwhile has stood by the position that not only are vaccines safe, they protect children who would otherwise be at risk. Recently the CDC has stated that diseases we thought irradiated, such as polio, are showing up again. Since 2007 over 1,000 children have died from preventable diseases.
If you are wondering where I stand, we vaccinate our children, but it wasn’t a decision we arrived at quickly or easily. Before I let the pediatrician inject anything into any of my children we research the risks and benefits of each vaccine. In the end we felt in our hearts and minds that the likelihood of contacting a dangerous disease more more probable that a vaccine injury. Also, on a anecdotal note, having been in the Army for so long I have had every possible vaccine ever created, to include anthrax, and I am still ticking.
But this week news is spreading that Jenny McCarthy, a face of the non-vaccination side, “might be wrong.” Her 14 year old son, Evan, was diagnosed early as being on the Spectrum. McCarthy attributed his disorder to vaccines he received. She went on to be a critic of vaccinations and published two books. In 2010 it came out that the diagnosis for ASD might have been hasty, and there could be a different disorder, such as hearing or visual impairment. She stands by the original diagnosis for Autism and claims these rumors are false.
So why does it matter what other parents are doing? Because un-vaccinated children could spread diseases to your children who have not yet been fully immunized (either haven’t received initial or booster shots). Do an image search for measels. It looks really painful. Children don’t get their second MMR until they are 4-6 years old, leaving them vulnerable to this disease. Other children have compromised immune systems and cannot be immunized and must rely on herd immunization. For this reason I understand the anger and frustration at people like Jenny McCarthy, regardless of whether or not her son has Autism.
Despite these concerns, parents have the inherent right to parent as they feel best for their children. Non-vax-ers are not being lazy. Most likely they put a lot of time and energy and soul seeking before choosing to not vaccinate. Their side of the controversy is not without evidence. According to the “National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program statistics reports” the US Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) fund had paid out 2,114 awards totaling $1.7 billion, mailing for people injured by the DTAP vaccine.
So, before you go blast Jenny (calling her an idiot or a menace as I have seen already today), take a moment and emphasize with her. We are all doing the best we can with what we know and what we have experienced.