Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Compulsory Vaccination: Yah, Nay, Maybe?

Are you either for or against compulsory vaccination? Or is there some middle ground?

Great question - but not the one Kate Tuttle posed in Compulsory Vaccination: A Primer over at one of my fave parenting websites, Babble. Tuttle lays out the latest on vaccine safety - the reasons people oppose vaccinations and refuse to believe in their safety. Yeah, didn't go over well with some in the anti-vac camp. But the most interesting stuff came from readers, or rather, readers who responded. Talk about a catfight - heaps of anger, accusations, name-calling not to mention misinformation and outright falsehoods - on both sides of the issue. I put in my two cents only to have someone misidentify me as the culprit behind some controversial remark - fortunately another soul pointed out the mistake. A few cool heads wondered if there's any middle ground in the great vaccination debate. Of course there is - many other parents who don't speak up nearly as often as the vaccination extremists.

People like me.

I vaccinated all three of my children. Yes, I did so after thimerosal was removed - but I would have done so even pre-2001. I'd read some of the scientific literature, lots of the autism-thimerosal stuff. I was pretty sure there was no link. Even so... I spaced the shots out. I held my breath, gritted my teeth, and watched for signs of regression. We know for a fact some children have adverse reactions. We basically have to trust it won't happen to our kid. We're playing the odds. I know people, friends, who swear their kids were damaged by vaccinations. I can't argue with them. I don't believe shots trigger autism - we've got good evidence to the contrary. Is it possible they can trigger other conditions? Of course.

Do I wish more people would vaccinate their kids? Yes. Does an outbreak of measles concern me? Yes. Do I think everyone should be forced into it? No. If children in my family had had bad reactions or some pre-existing condition then I'm not certain what I would do. I've never had to make that decision. I can certainly understand, empathize with that position.

There, that's a middle ground.

Read the article. If you're up for a good verbal brawl, read the comments. The article does contain a few errors. The infamous Lancet article that launched the autism-thimerosal debate appeared in 1998 not 1988. Also, thimerosal wasn't removed from all vaccinations (except the flu shots) until 2001.

2 comments:

psychomama said...

You posted this on the same day as my little dude got his first vaccinations! Unlike most other major developments in his life, I have woefully under researched this issue, so thanks for the post.

Psychomama

Dr. Polly said...

Hope the little dude is faring well! None of my 3 kids ever seemed to react except for one time my son got a goose egg on his tiny thigh. You're lucky that the autism scare has been discarded though you might not believe it if you'd read the comments on that Babble article. Do you think some of the parents could have used a few rounds of therapy?