The Great Vaccine Debate: Where Do You Stand?by Sarah Dyer
I read an article recently in Parenting Magazine called “The Absolute Truth About Vaccines.” Then I got a call from the CDC interested in my opinions about vaccines and what we have elected to do with our children, and the kicker: yesterday there was also some discussion on Modernmom.com about the HPV vaccine. So with vaccines on the brain, I wanted to get your opinions.
Can you feel your heart racing already? I know. This is an extremely polarizing topic, and it really sets people off, but I’m hoping we can spark some thoughtful discussion.
In my opinion, the FDA and the CDC have done an extremely poor job of making the general population feel comfortable with vaccines on the whole. They are no longer considered an impartial party and are often perceived as being in the back pocket of drug companies, with just as much to gain monetarily as the drug companies themselves. This is just my opinion, not a fact.
That being said, I did my research prior to having my children vaccinated, particularly when the H1N1 vaccine came out. And I understand there are always risks associated with vaccines but none of them, to me, were more compelling than the thought of losing my child to a disease that was eradicated in the previous century. Today it is a devastating tragedy to lose a child, but for our great-grandparents, it was not an uncommon occurrence and so previous generations rushed to get their children vaccinated as soon as they were available.
I don’t personally know anyone that has chosen not to vaccinate their children so unfortunately I can’t find out from a firsthand conversation why some parents are opting out of vaccines.
I completely understand why Andrew Wakefield’s study linking autism to the MMR vaccine (which has now been deemed to have been a fraudulent study), would make anyone think twice about giving a perceived toxin to their child. But many studies conducted on hundreds of thousands of children worldwide have now disproved his theory, and he is no longer allowed to practice medicine.
There are two things that are a tragic result of his recklessness. The first is that he put an entire population at risk of resurrecting certain infectious diseases: Mumps, Measles and Rubella. And secondly, he stagnated any developments to finding out the true cause of autism.
The interesting thing to me, is that the people who are choosing not to vaccinate their children, are doing just that - they are making a choice. It is generally not the families who can't afford to vaccinate their children or don’t have health insurance, it is well-educated, upper middle class families and communities that are seeing the outbreaks of infectious diseases. It's people like me, in communities like mine.
I am all about parents making their own well-informed choices for their families. If their decisions don’t impact me personally then c’est la vie, everyone can live their own lives. The problem that I have, is that I can get my child vaccinated but if there are enough people around me that don’t have vaccinations then my child is still at risk and the situation is beyond my control. For some vaccines the tipping point is fairly low, so if 15-20% of the population is unvaccinated then the entire population is at risk, which for adults isn’t always a big deal but for children it can be deadly.
So I’m curious to know, now that Wakefield’s study linking MMR to autism has been disproved, is there anyone out there who hasn't previously gotten their children vaccinated that is now reconsidering getting them?
In my mind, we are headed down a very dangerous path, if more and more people choose not to vaccinate. What I think needs to be addressed is not whether a parent decided to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, because I think it is safe to assume that every parent is doing what they feel is in their child’s best interest. But why. What factors are making parents decide that vaccinating is more risky than wide spread infectious diseases? Or am I wrong and more people are getting vaccinated than I realize?
If you choose to comment below, I would love it if you would articulate your reasoning instead of including a link, because I’m pretty sure I’ve already read the links you may post, but I’m more interested in your views. For arguments sake, let's exclude the HPV vaccine from the conversation and focus on the vaccines that are considered part of the standard schedule for children and young adults.
I have tried to keep this post as unemotional as possible, with the hope that some real discussion with thoughtful comments can come out of this. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal, which is to keep our children safe and to look out for their best interests.