After watching a quick episode of SpongeBob SquarePants with Kevin, I headed back to my computer to get some work done. Imagine my surprise when I found an article that Fred forwarded to me from Slashdot — Study Finds Unvaccinated Students Putting Other Students at Risk. It took me all of about ten seconds to shoot back a response. “Thank you, Fred. You just gave me my blog post for today.”
Before I get up on my soapbox and rant though, it’s important that I share some background information. When I learned that I was pregnant with Abby, as most moms-to-be do, I started researching all the hot-button issues — vaccines, circumcision, homebirth, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, etc — because although I THOUGHT I knew where I stood on all those issues, I wanted to keep an open mind.
Regarding vaccines, I had always held my ground in the pro camp. In fact, I remember saying things like, “How could anyone NOT vaccinate their kids?”, and, “‘Those’ people are crazy! It’s a public health issue.” The truth of the matter was though, I was uninformed. I was spouting that stuff by rote because that’s what I’d learned from my mom, a nurse, and the mainstream. I just assumed that because everyone did it, that’s what you were supposed to do.
Going into it, I didn’t expect that I’d find compelling information that would change my mind. I gave it a fair hearing though, and I was stunned by the end result. After research, discussion, and prayer, we decided that vaccines wouldn’t serve the best interests of our children.
As you can imagine, once we made our decision, we came upon resistance from time to time. In the end though, our kids’ doctor respects our decision, and Indiana law supports my religious objection. My husband and I are happy to share the whys and what-fors with people who’re genuinely interested, but most people just want to argue with us in much the same way that I argued for vaccines when I didn’t know any better.
So given our history and our stance on vaccines, it should come as no surprise that a story like the one on Slashdot would ruffle some feathers. After all, if the vaccines work like the drug companies claim, why should vaccinated students have anything to fear?
This issue comes up from time to time. I remember a couple years ago when Indiana was experiencing a measles “epidemic”. Several states were involved, and interestingly enough, the infection rate among vaccinated folks was much higher — something like 60-70% — than that seen in unvaccinated folks. I recall something similar with a whooping cough “epidemic”.
And don’t even get me started on FLUMIST! I can decline an influenza vaccine, yet I can CATCH influenza from folks who get FLUMIST because they’re shedding live virus, just as they would if they had the flu, for as much as THREE WEEKS! This means that seemingly healthy, vaccinated individuals are living, working, shopping, and playing with thousands of folks who can be sickened by influenza. How are unvaccinated folks the cause of the problem there?
Reading through the comments section of the aforementioned Slashdot article, I’m astounded by the ignorance. Yeah, I know that I used to be one of those people too, but I was interested in learning about both sides of the issue; I was interested in keeping an open mind despite the fact that I thought I knew it all.
Again, I can’t help but go back to my original question. If all these vaccines are so effective, why are unvaccinated people a threat to vaccinated folks? I’m not asking a rhetorical question. I truly don’t understand the rationale. I mean, I could understand how someone might think that an unvaccinated person who’s managed to contract something like measles might put other unvaccinated folks at risk. And I can certainly understand how vaccinated folks could put unvaccinated folks at risk. I just don’t understand this “blame it on the poor, stupid parents who aren’t smart enough to vaccinate their kids” mentality. From a logical perspective, it doesn’t make sense.
Now that I’m “one of those people”, I can tell you why folks choose to avoid vaccination. Some folks object to the underlying methods used to manufacture the vaccines. For instance, the chicken pox vaccine, as well as 9 other vaccines, is cultured with cells from aborted babies.
Also, there are the folks who question the foxic ingredients — formaldehyde, MSG, mercury, aluminum, and antibiotics among others — used as stabilizers, preservatives, and the like. The “experts” claim folks shouldn’t worry because vaccines don’t contain large quantities, by volume, of these worrisome substances, but folks are still worried. After all, think how many vaccines are “required” these days. A drop of water might seem insignificant, but when you put enough of them together, you have the potential to drown someone.
Still other folks worry about the effects on the human immune system, especially when babies and small children are exposed to large combinations of viral and bacterial DNA all at once. These injections bypass the protective mechanisms built into the immune system, so a body has to process the “invaders” in an unnatural way. Combine that with the fact that folks get exposed to multiple DNA sources at once. It’d be sort of like walking into a hospital ward with a bunch of folks who had a bunch of different, highly contagious diseases. There comes a point when the immune system has to cry “Uncle!”
There are other folks who choose not to vaccinate because they’ve weighed the risks from the vaccine against the risks of getting the disease. Let’s use chicken pox as an example here. Most everyone my age and older has had chicken pox. Most of us remember it, and most of us recall being miserable. A very small number of us might recall getting REALLY sick with a secondary infection like pneumonia, and maybe one or two of us might know of someone who died from said secondary infection. For the vast majority of folks though, chicken pox was just another time of getting sick, getting over it, and going about our lives. Yes, people CAN die from chicken pox, influenza, or hang nails. I’d hazard a guess though that your likelihood of dying from something like chicken pox is much lower than your likelihood of dying in a car crash.
And of course there are folks who don’t vaccinate because they’re suffering from paralysis by analysis. Those folks eventually get it sorted out, but they’re out there.
The point I’m trying to make here is that people have good reasons (most of the time) for making deliberate choices when it comes to vaccines. Putting the onus on those folks who choose not to vaccinate is unfair, because the issue is so much more complicated than, “If those stupid parents would just vaccinate their kids, there’d be no more illness and no public health worries.”
If we dig into the why behind the vaccination issue, we come across some valid points (on both sides.) Splitting us into the “us vs. them” fight doesn’t help anyone. It certainly doesn’t help the root issue. All it does is line Big Pharma’s pockets with more money, but that’s another rant for another time.