Thursday, August 29, 2013

Follow Up: Still Wrong, and Dangerous

Well, this is a first.

In my three-plus years of blathering on the internet I've managed to avoid most controversy by writing about non-controversial topics. Armadillo attacks. Tomato plants. Our Dog Pepper. I think we can all agree that we're against the first of these topics and for the second two.

Two days ago I went off on a mini-tangent that, given the make-up of my reader pool, I didn't expect to make a ripple. I always imagine that my demographic is, well, me: A late-middle-aged mom from the middle of the road. We middle-of-the-road moms vaccinated our children, and we don't understand why any parent would willingly put children at risk of these preventable illnesses that cause such dreadful complications up to and including death.

I called those parents "wrong, and dangerous."

Last night I opened my in-box to find a comment had been posted from Kaely. She had taken the time to thoughtfully and reasonably present her views, and included links to websites that support the anti-vaccination viewpoint. It wasn't a comment I could just off-handedly delete--I left it posted and thought about it all night. Had I been to harsh? Had I been unkind? Had I been hasty?

This morning, though, I'm deleting Kaely's comment, and here's why:

1. After visiting all the websites she had listed, I am more persuaded by the science in the links from such sources as the Mayo Clinic and the Center for Disease Control than by the sources she cited. I will continue to weigh the evidence, and until reputable scientists and widely-respected platforms tell me otherwise, I'll continue to believe vaccinations are safe. I will not use this space or its comments to perpetuate views that could kill a child.

2. I know that I presented anecdotal evidence--my own illness and that of my children--as part of my defense of vaccinations. In other words, I had prima facie evidence that NOT vaccinating can lead to some really unpleasant consequences. I also knew my own children did not contract the illnesses against which they had been vaccinated, so they were spared these consequences. But anecdotal evidence certainly should not be the only basis on which a parent should make decisions. Still, the huge preponderance of scientific evidence shows that vaccinations are safe. I am truly saddened by Kaely's claim that "the pertussis vaccine causes very severe seizures in enough children that in our area many pediatric nurses suggest against getting the vaccine." I find this horrifying.

3. There was one line in Kaely's comment that struck a chord: "(Calling non-vaccinators wrong and dangerous) is very hurtful and presumptuous, as there are many reasons including your son's allergy, which would prevent a parent from vaccinating their children." She's right that there are valid reasons for not vaccinating a child. Some children have compromised immune systems because of other medical issues. Some, like Boy#3, have allergies to the vaccination that were discovered during the vaccination process. If I have hurt someone from one of that group, I apologize. You have enough to deal with without me piling on your issues, and I should have included that disclaimer in Tuesday's post.

As I think about how Husband and I parented our children, though, I know we made tons of mistakes. We pushed sometimes when we should have supported. We ignored when we should have stepped in. We meddled when benign neglect would have been the better choice. But we did not make mindful mistakes when it came to their physical safety. The Boys wore bicycle helmets and seatbelts, got swimming lessons, and didn't drive until they had taken driver's ed. And they were vaccinated on the scientifically recommended schedule.

Not to have done so would have been wrong, and dangerous.

(Empty Nest Feathers is not going to become a forum for the vaccination debate, so this is the last time I'll write on this subject. Now I return you to our regular schedule of tomfoolery.)

1 comment:

  1. The vaccine topic is so hot for me, it's one of the very few topics where I've found I actually have to draw a relationship line: I can be friends with someone even if we disagree on a whole bunch of different and important issues---but there are certain issues (racism, homosexuality, vaccines) where if we disagree, I know not to try to be friends because it's never going to work out. I know not to even discuss it, because that discussion is going nowhere productive. The sort of person who would base their beliefs on certain kinds of information is someone who is inherently incompatible with me.