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Daily Tip: Ask your family to get on board with your new plan, so that they can both remind you and cheer you on. They may even join you!
When you are a new parent (or maybe even a not-so-new parent), you hear about the Great Vaccine Debate. I’ve posted on it very extensively already, including an entire series that explains the ingredients, risk/benefit of each vaccine, natural course of each illness, and so on. Suffice to say it is a subject I am passionate about.
And what I am most passionate about is that everyone has all of the true and accurate information. I can’t stand the anger, animosity, lies, and scare tactics that surround the debate. I can’t stand the fighting and misinformation passed around to try to bully people either way. This is a medical decision, people. And it should be left in the hands of the parents, who know their children best, along with the input of the medical professionals they trust. It should not be a decision made by a friend, neighbor, school, grandparent, the government, or anyone else. Period.
That said, there are some pervasive and annoying myths passed around by both sides that polarize the debate which people need to stop saying.
Point #1: It’s Illegal Not to Vaccinate/You Must Do It For School
This is completely false but often passed around. A new parent is thinking about what they feel is right for their child, and someone pops in with the oh-so-(not)-helpful bit of information, “But they can’t go to public school if they aren’t vaccinated.” The new parent then thinks that they must choose a delayed schedule, at most, but get all the ‘required’ vaccines.
This is a lie! In all states except WV and MI, there are religious exemptions. In all states, there are medical exemptions (but it is harder to obtain in some states than others). About half of states have philosophical exemptions. Children absolutely can go to public school without some or all vaccinations. What the school or government thinks should not be your concern when choosing this medical procedure for your children.
Point #2: You Are Endangering Society If You Don’t Vaccinate
The logic here basically says that vaccines are absolutely necessary/the only way to protect children from illness, and that children who aren’t vaccinated are spreading diseases around. It’s pretty silly because it neglects two very important points: 1) Only children who are sick can spread disease, and both vaccinated and unvaccinated children can get sick (including with “vaccine preventable” diseases — many children who were vaccinated have gotten pertussis, mumps, measles, etc.). 2) There are lots of other ways to protect children than vaccines.
And, you know, this might be a little bit mean, but...if you have a child who is a newborn or who is immunocompromised, it’s up to you to take extra steps to protect him/her. Stay home, avoid certain public locations (like indoor playgrounds), use face masks, take immune-boosting supplements, whatever is needed. I will be taking precautions when I have a newborn again in a few weeks and I know it is my job. You don’t, can’t know who is in public sick…or about to get sick, whether that’s with a cold or the measles. And these can be equally dangerous to those with weak immune systems. You can’t vaccinate for a cold, either.
My opinion is that if you know you are sick, stay home! That is your responsibility to society. Don’t purposely go out and expose everyone. If you must make a quick trip to the grocery store or something, then do it. Don’t take your kids to an indoor playground with runny noses and coughs. A lot of people say “Well, by the time they reach _____ stage, they’re not really contagious.” Yeah, someone told me that when coming for a play date when I was very pregnant with my third…kids acting fine and noses dripping. And guess whose kids woke up with bad colds two days later? If they’re dripping, they are still contagious. Be smart. And this has nothing to do with being vaccinated or not.
Point #3: Your Children WILL Die If You Don’t Vaccinate
My goodness…this is just over the top, but I hear it all the time. There is no basis for a statement like this. It’s a scare tactic and it is false. there is a teeny, tiny chance that a child could catch an illness, develop complications, and die from it. It could happen. But it really is a teeny tiny chance. There is no certainty in this. There is not even likelihood in this. While we need to be realistic that there is a chance of this, there is absolutely no reason, nor any evidence to support the idea that it “will” happen. Ridiculous.
Point #4: Parents Who Do/Don’t Vaccinate Don’t Love Their Children
Everyone needs to stop saying this. Right now. Everyone loves their children and they only want what is best for them. They want their children to be safe, healthy, and happy. Some believe that vaccinating is the best way to achieve this. Others believe not vaccinating is. And we may all disagree on that point, but we all love our children. Nobody should ever accuse another parent of not loving their child because they made a different decision about something! Frankly I think this is something people say when they don’t have enough of an argument to support their decision, or when they are angry and don’t know what to say. Here’s a hint: step away from the debate and say nothing. Never say this.
Point #5: Parents Who Do/Don’t Vaccinate Are Just “Sheeple” And Do Not Do Real Research
This, too, needs to stop being said. There are parents on both sides who are making the choice because “everyone else is doing that” or “my doctor/chiropractor said so.” Basically, they’re doing it without much research and based on misinformation. There are also parents on both sides of the debate who have researched extensively and have come to believe that vaccinating/not vaccinating is the right answer. It’s not possible to tell how informed or well-researched a person is just by what decision they made. And supposing they are doing it “just because others are” do you think calling them names is going to help them feel open to research? I don’t think so. No name calling!
Point #6: Vaccines Are a Government Conspiracy To Harm and Kill Us All
I really believe that at least the vast majority of people who support vaccines do so because they honestly believe that they are necessary and good. I do not think that they are a government conspiracy to kill us, thin the herds/eugenics, microchip us, etc. And frankly when people default to saying this instead of staying grounded in the scientific research, they sound crazy and do not help their cause. Although there are fringe theories about this and supposedly some “evidence,” it is very fringe. Let’s keep the debate to the health and science behind immunity and vaccination.
Point #7: No Studies Show Vaccines Are Linked to Autism Or Other Issues
This is demonstrably false. It is a phrase commonly passed around and therefore it is believed. Through extensive research into a number of health topics, I have found dozens and dozens of studies showing benefits to alternative remedies or alternative view points, which are ignored by the mainstream. There are hundreds to thousands of studies published everyday and most never get much attention. It does not mean they don’t exist. Basically, anything that doesn’t fit the mainstream line of thinking is ignored, unless it is replicated enough times to get attention. It is ignored longer is there is a strong belief and/or a financial incentive to do so. But again, pretending the evidence doesn’t exist doesn’t mean it doesn’t. Here are many to look at.
Point #8: Vaccines Have No Risks
This is one of the silliest things that is ever said. Of course vaccines have risks — anyone who is being honest will say that they do. Whether those risks are major or minor, and whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks is something else. It is entirely appropriate to say “I believe the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.” Okay — I understand that (I disagree, but I fully support someone coming to that conclusion). To say there are no risks is completely wrong. There are risks to anything! People need to be willing to admit that this entire discussion is about a risk-benefit analysis because there are risks to both sides. Downplaying that doesn’t help anyone.
Point #9: Not Vaccinating Makes Your Child Magically Healthier
While some early studies have shown that children who are not vaccinated have a lower risk of asthma, autism, etc. they have not proven a causal link. Children who are not vaccinated are also likely to have parents who take a healthy diet, supplements, and other aspects of health more seriously. While I believe vaccines play a role in these conditions, simply not vaccinating does not guarantee your child health. There are other steps you need to take to protect your child’s health.
Plus, some parents seem to think that their child will be so healthy from not being vaccinated that they won’t actually catch anything. This is dangerous. If your child isn’t vaccinated (and frankly, even if s/he is), s/he might get sick. S/he might get the measles, or the mumps, or pertussis. All of these have circulated in recent years. You need to learn what the typical symptoms of these diseases are, the signs of complications, when to call the doctor, how to treat at home in minor cases, and so on. You have to accept the risk that your child might get sick. Now — it’s unlikely if your child is not a newborn and not immunocompromised that the illness will be serious or permanently harm or kill your child. But s/he still might catch it. Know it, prepare for it.
If we could take all of these lies out of the debate and focus on the science, as well as believing that every parent just wants what is best for their children, this would be a whole lot better for everyone.
What myths have you heard?
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