Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Controversial Topic: Vaccines

This Sunday's paper contained the Parade magazine as usual.  The cover article is this one: on vaccines.  I think this article is well written and not extreme.  

I have been concerned about the increase in the number of parents who are not vaccinating their children.  Honestly, this article expresses my concerns well.  I remember visiting a church a few years ago where I knew many of the parents were choosing to delay or not vaccinate their children.  I was quite anxious about my children being in the nursery.  One thing most people don't realize is that when they choose to delay or not vaccinate their children, they are not only putting their own children at risk, but also those who are unable to be vaccinated for health or age reasons.  

Our culture is so self-centered.  We are encouraged to think more of our own families than of the greater good.  We don't think about how our actions will affect others.  

I have a friend who is a pediatric ICU nurse.  We've had long discussions about the vaccines.  She explained to me about what she's seen in her job and that people don't realize the impact of the diseases that we are warding off by vaccinating our children.  I've even heard people make light of whooping cough and hepatitis. 

Our generation has not had to experience these diseases in epidemic proportion.  So, I believe it is very difficult for us to accept the reality of how an epidemic would impact everyone.  But, outbreaks are increasing.  

Can you imagine having your child die of a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccination?

Many people are now putting off the hepatitis vaccine, because they believe it is not necessary.  I have known several people with hepatitis.  While it is not life threatening, it is life-altering.  There are many effects.  One is that it can affect one's ability to get pregnant.  Another person I knew struggled with fatigue and other symptoms that made it impossible for her to hold a full time job.  It also damages a person's liver and can lead to liver cancer.

Another vaccine that people are putting off or not getting is the chicken pox vaccine.  It is seen as not essential.  But, there is an additional affect of not getting the vaccine besides chicken pox.  Many people who got the chicken pox as children are now getting shingles as adults.  It is the same virus that causes shingles.  I have one friend who's had shingles 3 times.  She has explained to me how painful it is and that she made sure her children got the chicken pox vaccine.  Most parents think that if their children get the chicken pox then it is done.  But, unfortunately, it isn't.  

I know many parents believe that vaccines have damaged their children.  I do not know how to respond to what they believe in their hearts to be true.  I do know, though, that the link between vaccines and autism has been consistently disproven and debunked by research.  There are other potential causes that researchers are investigating.  This article lists a few of them:  Our culture is so cynical and distrustful.  We are prone to believing conspiracy theories, like the ones that have been perpetrated about autism and vaccines.  We need to be careful about such theories--they affect our well being and that of others.  


becky.onelittle said...

What would you say to parents of a child who died from a vaccine?

We have chosen to delay vaccines after Nathaniel had 3 days of extremely high fever and lethargy following both his second and third round of infant shots. Of all 5 children he alone experienced motor and language delays and also finds communicating with people even non-verbally difficult. I have often wondered whether it would benefit him to test him for Asperger's.
I can't say that vaccines are definitively responsible, but I've often wondered about his tiny little newborn brain being wracked by such high temps for so long, and I will say the fevers were tied directly to the shots.
I understand the thought behind the greater good, but I couldn't choose the greater good over my children's health.

Anne said...

It's such a hard issue! And I don't honestly know what I'd say to a parent who's child had died from a vaccine. I would probably just listen, because I realize that I'm not in their shoes. I want to comment more, but I think I need to ponder what to say in response to your comment.

Anne said...

I don't know what I'd say to any parent who's child had died period. There are moments when it's crossed my mind about my own children (not because of vaccines, but simply because of life) and it tears me up. I am so sorry that Nathaniel got sick when he was a baby.

I am still concerned about people not vaccinating their children. I fear the consequences of that choice for all of us. I linked to this article, because I thought it was much gentler than most. Most people in this debate seem to be on one extreme or another and alarmist critical. I didn't feel the article from Parade took a mean tone.