It Takes a Village: The Fight Over Vaccines
I’m writing this during an episode of massive adrenaline, so if it comes across as aggressive or weird, sorry. This topic also covers the controversial topic of vaccines, so be warned.
The scary mommy article
As you probably already know, I have children. I also follow the page Scary Mommy on Facebook. Today I came across an article on this page about a mother (who is also a licensed pediatric RN) whose daughter cannot be vaccinated due to a kidney transplant she received at age 2. Evidently her daughter was exposed to the Chicken Pox Virus and is now hospitalized under mostly precautionary efforts, since the virus can be fatal for the elderly, newborns, and immunocompromised (like the little girl in this article). The reason this mother posted images of her daughter in this hospital and the story of what had happened, was to shed a light on the effects that not vaccinating your children can have on others.
the internet is full of wanna-be doctors and asshats
In true internet fashion, those opposed to vaccines arrived with their torches and pitchforks, hell-bent on angrily typing mean things in a strange effort to change minds. Some of these people had the balls to tell this NURSE to “educate herself” while others dismissed this as NBD.
Here’s the thing: It is a big fucking deal. Here is what the CDC says about Varicella (the pox):
“Serious complications from chickenpox include
- bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissues in children including Group A streptococcal infections
- infection or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis, cerebellar ataxia)
- bleeding problems
- blood stream infections (sepsis)
Some people with serious complications from chickenpox can become so sick that they need to be hospitalized. Chickenpox can also cause death.”
Since when has death been “no big deal”?
Allow me tell you a little story
I have 2 children, both who have received all of their vaccines in accordance with their pediatricians recommendations. My first child seemed like your average “good baby”. He was happy, healthy, and rarely fussy.
My second child was a little different. My daughter was not an easy baby, and she was an even worse toddler. I love both of my children more than anything in this God-forsaken world and I would die for them, but if I’m being honest here my daughter was kind of a nightmare. I began to worry this wasn’t just a “terrible two” situation and something was seriously wrong. She was showing several classic signs of autism, and I began to wonder if vaccinating her somehow caused this.
It didn’t take long for me to conclude that even if it had, I would never regret vaccinating her. Ever. The reason? Autism = alive. Deadly virus = possibly not alive and/or could kill others. I never took her to a doctor to have her evaluated and sure enough, she grew out of those behavioral abnormalities. Before those with the pitchforks come for me, please know I am fully aware children with autism do not just “grow out of it”. My point is that while my child did not have autism, my first thought was she very well could. Anybody wanna guess why?
Yes, the argument can be made that both sides engage in these kind of hyperbolic scare tactics in order to change minds, but here’s something important to remember: only one side has empirical, peer-reviewed evidence. It has been overwhelmingly studied, reviewed, studied again, and proven that there is no link between autism and vaccines. But there are still parents out there who worry about all the “other” risks vaccines pose to their children. The chances of a severe reaction (not just “but Johnny had a fever!”) to a vaccine are fractional. So fractional in fact, that your kid has a better chance of becoming a murderer than suffering from a vaccine complication.
For a better spoken and much funnier argument on this, please watch this segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver about vaccines:
hesitancy on vaccination does not equal evil parent
I’m not here to demonize these parents. People on the pro-vaccine side like to make wild assumptions that people who are hesitant to vaccinate are somehow purposely exposing their kids to potential death, therefore they clearly don’t love them and their parent card should be revoked indefinitely. The chances these concerned parents somehow all have Munchausen by proxy, or the overwhelming desire to watch their children suffer is even more minimal than your kid having a severe reaction to a vaccine or growing up to be the next Ted Bundy. These parents are not monsters looking to kill all our babies. They are just as concerned for their children, only they are looking through a different lens….because they have been fed this fear with unsubstantiated, and in almost all cases, down-right fraudulent claims.
So who do we believe?
This world is so information heavy, making it difficult to figure out what is true and what is false. Add any time someone who stands on a public pillar-of-trust betrays the very people who look to them for answers, we lose that trust.
Personally, I believe the doctors who only have my children’s health at the forefront of their mind. I trust those who have sworn an oath to “first, do no harm” and would stand to lose everything if they betray that oath, to tell me what is best for my children’s health.
This is just my choice, for my family. It doesn’t mean everyone else has to agree, and many won’t. But instead of tearing each other apart like animals, why don’t we try a little compassion, or at the very least a civilized discussion. Mothers and Fathers alike should be rallying together for the sake of all of their children. They should be out there every day talking to doctors and researchers and scientists, not leaving nasty insults in the comment section of a Facebook post.
IT TAKES A FUCKING VILLAGE
Resources you should check out: