I have been trying to stay out of this one, but I think I am meant to write this, as it keeps “popping” back into my mind, so here goes. I think I understand both sides which I’ll explain. That is why I was really trying to stay out of it. I still am not going to give you a definite answer as to what you need to do. However, this week this debate caused two groups of otherwise intelligent, caring, autism advocates, to behave like two children in the sandbox fighting over a toy. One side resorted to an inappropriate posting of a picture on Facebook that further lead to more angry postings on both sides and some very inappropriate threatening posts. Thank God these were eventually removed. I am all about bully prevention and using technology appropriately, so I just cannot be quiet on this one. Otherwise, I would be the guilty bystander who does not speak up when they see bullying.
Let me start by explaining why I think I see the two sides clearly. First, I will explain why vaccines are important to me aside from the fact that I am a R.N. and my husband is a M.D. My oldest brother died when he was only thirteen months old of what was probably pneumococcal pneumonia. This deeply affected my mother and in some ways she never recovered. It was the second premature death of a loved one for her, as her father died when she was only sixteen of tuberculosis. Both of these diagnoses now have vaccines to help prevent them although the tuberculosis vaccine is not without side effects, so it is rarely given in the United States. My mother’s outlook on life might have been different if the vaccines had been available for my grandfather and older brother.
Now, I will explain why I understand the other side. I have personally taken two different prescription medications that have been pulled from the market, and I took both of them from the time they were newly on the market until they were removed from the market. Both might have put me at an increased risk for a stroke. Members of both sides of my family have died from strokes, so I am now a lot more cautious about taking medication that is new to the market. However, medication can and does save lives just like vaccines can and do save lives, so I do take medications when needed and I take my flu shot every year.
I believe in informed decisions and patient choices, but I also know that for vaccines to really be effective everyone needs to be vaccinated. However, I heard Jenny McCarthy talk on one of the morning shows a few months ago and I got the impression that she is not anti-vaccine. She is merely asking that the FDA really verify their safety and that vaccines for babies and young children be spaced out more. I can understand this especially given what I know of her son’s story.
So, why is there bullying going on and why do we need a public service announcement at the movie theaters when this information has already been all over the news media and the internet? I really don’t get it, but I do get that bullying others only makes them angry and hurts your cause. It seems to me that we should all be on the same side. As parents, we also need to set good examples for our children.