The measles outbreak in the United States and the various conversations swirling around it are driving me crazy.
By the early 21st century, measles was practically eradicated. And now, already in 2015, 84 people have been diagnosed with measles (due largely to the outbreak in Disney Land).
“• The majority of the people who got measles were unvaccinated.
“• Measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.
“• Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.
“• Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.”*
There were over 600 cases of measles in the United States last year.
Please vaccinate your children. If you think you need a booster, please talk to your own doctor.
The media conversation seems to center around the thoroughly debunked Wakefield study. But I see a different trend on Facebook and in article comments. (I know. Never read the comments. And yet.)
1. Vaccines are full of poison!
This school of thought lists all the scary-sounding things that allegedly make up vaccines — aluminum, formaldehyde, mercury (not true anyway), and so on. The simple rebuttal to this is: the dose makes the poison. Given the minute amounts of these ingredients in vaccines — many of them naturally occurring in other things that we put into or onto our bodies — this gains no traction with me. If you’re alarmed about these ingredients, please have a talk with your pediatrician.
2. The government is going to force me to vaccinate my children!
Yeah, they kind of should. I am pretty solidly behind the idea that the government is allowed to dictate certain things for the larger public good. All children should be vaccinated if they are going to go to school. For those that have a documented medical reason for not being able to be vaccinated, it’s the only way to give them any kind of protection. This conspiracy-type thinking pretty much drives me up the wall. If you don’t want to get your child vaccinated, then don’t send him/her to school. If you are so distrustful of the government and/or the medical establishment, maybe you need to talk to someone with a Ph.D after their name. Seriously, the government doesn’t want to harm your children; it is not trying to indoctrinate them via Big Pharma.
Relatedly, this is the tactic that Republican law makers — some of whom are going to run for president in the next year — are now employing. They aren’t anti-vaccine! They are pro-parental choice! Tell you what, once they stop fighting against access for women’s reproductive choice and healthcare, I’ll let them give parents the choice of vaccinating their children. How’s that?
Look, I get it. When my children were being born, the autism scare/Wakefield study bunk was at its height. My husband saw severely delayed children on a daily basis. The story was scarily the same: normal development until the MMR shot. When it came time to vaccinate Flora, he asked to space out her shots. We did a ton of reading and research together (very little of it online, thank God). I was 100 percent pro-vaccine. I did talk to the pediatrician’s office about spacing out the shots. We came to an agreement that made my husband comfortable.
Fast forward a few years to when Kate was getting vaccinated. My husband sat down with the pediatrician at the time (same organization, different office than with Flora), and that doctor talked to him at length, openly, honestly, and without being condescending. My husband and I are smart, educated people, who wanted to participate in our children’s care, not just take edicts from “on high”.
Kate got the full complement of vaccines that she was scheduled for that day. M, too, has been fully vaccinated, mostly on schedule (there were times he was ill at a checkup, and we returned later to get him caught up).
Educating parents like Dan — parents who were scared, who saw things and dealt with things highly suspect in terms of timing — those are the parents we can reach. Dan and I had the added terror of having actually lost a child already — not at all related to medicine or vaccinations, but still.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Especially now, in the Internet age, when everyone is enabled with a platform for his or her opinion, backed up with sites like Natural News and the National Vaccine Information Center.
Talk to your pediatrician. That’s the best advice.
And vaccinate your children. For the good of all the children.