A few years ago (more like 6 years ago – yikes!) I provided childcare for a woman who was raising 3 boys between the ages of 3 months and 5 years. Her middle son, who was 2 or 3 at the time, was on the autism spectrum. I was introduced into a world of Autism research and Early Intervention therapy sessions. This woman (who is now my friend), was an inspiring mother. She scheduled meetings to get her son the services he needed and many times had to fight for what she thought he deserved. She never just listened to one doctor or took things at face value. She did her research. A lot of it. Because of her and her wonderful son I too became interested in reading about Autism.
One of the most debated topics in the reading; Are vaccines part of the reason we have seen an increase in the diagnoses of autism? Now, I am no doctor (and I never will be) and I don’t intend to debate this here on my blog. However, once I became a mother I really had to think about vaccines as a whole.
Vaccines, particularly ones for things like Chicken Pox, which almost everyone gets as a kid and survives, are strange to me. I have never gotten a flu shot because I have never found it necessary. When I was pregnant I was asked repeatedly if I wanted a flu shot, and I always said no. A friend told me that her doctor encouraged it while she was pregnant and that I should ask my doctor. I still didn’t get it.
One of the things that I became acutely aware of when making my transition into a vegan lifestyle was what I was putting into my body. So naturally, vaccines are a little questionable to me. The idea of knowingly putting a virus (whether it is active or not) into my body made me uncomfortable. However, I have all of my vaccines (from childhood). They didn’t have the chicken pox vaccine when I was growing up. I got the chicken pox twice and besides my one battle scar (a mark in the middle of my forehead from picking) I survived. I have a friend with two toddlers. They were both vaccinated for the chicken pox and a couple of months ago, guess what? They both got the chicken pox. The doctor said it would have been more severe without the vaccine, but I still wonder about the effectiveness.
My husband and I decided to vaccinate our daughter. But I am still weary of that decision. Two articles have been presented to me in the past day that I want to share with all of you (links below). I am not here to tell anyone whether or not to vaccinate their children. But as the Doctor, quoted in Alicia Silverstone’s article states:
“…vaccines are a really personal issue and one of my biggest problems is that 99% of pediatricians don’t feel that parents should even participate in the decision about how or when, let alone if a baby should get all, some or none of the shots at any given office visit.”
This is my issue as well. Now, it is true that most of us are not doctors and therefore are not equipped with the same understanding of vaccinations, immune systems, and illness as doctors. However, I do think that pediatricians should talk to parents about the topic. I think they should continue the research themselves. And most importantly, they should not just push things on people without being honest about the fact that there could be potentially harmful affects, even if the potential for good out weights the potential for bad.
Someone, a very intelligent person in my life, who is not a doctor but is a scientist once said that she blamed Jenny McCarthy for making people think that vaccines are bad. And she further blamed Oprah for giving Jenny a platform to spread her crazy idea. Well, if Jenny hadn’t done it, someone else would have. And when you think about it, the fact that there are doctors out there, many of them, who also question the continuing use of vaccines makes it a real issue of concern. I read Jenny’s books, and while I certainly take what she says with a grain of salt; as a mother I know the lengths I would go to for my child and I relate to her passion for helping her son and spreading the word.
I understand that there are vaccines that at one time or another truly did save lives, like polio for instance. But what is necessary and what can we eliminate?
The decision is yours. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer but use the information below to help inform yourself.
The 2 articles that sparked me writing this post:
The Kind Life with Alicia Silverstone
Some more information (both for and against vaccines):
Remember I am not a doctor. Nor am I encouraging your to make a particular decision. I am just encouraging people to do the research and decide what is right for their families.